Metro-East News

Plainfield North survives court fight, will face East St. Louis in title game

Flyers players Malcolm Bell (21, left) and Ken Dixon (7) celebrate with a jump and bump after Dixon ran in a touchdown.
Flyers players Malcolm Bell (21, left) and Ken Dixon (7) celebrate with a jump and bump after Dixon ran in a touchdown.

A Cook County judge ruled Wednesday that the Plainfield North Tigers, not the Fenwick Friars, will face East St. Louis’ Flyers in the class 7A Illinois football championship.

Fenwick High School filed a legal challenge Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, asking that a judge overturn the school’s 18-17 loss to Plainfield North in last weekend’s class 7A semifinal game. Fenwick had argued that a blown call cost the Friars an appearance in the title game.

Judge Kathleen Kennedy denied Fenwick’s request for a temporary restraining order. She issued the ruling in a courtroom packed with several Fenwick students and supporters, according to a tweet from Chicago Sun-Times sports reporter Michael O’Brien.

Fenwick principal Peter Groom told O’Brien that Fenwick won’t pursue additional appeals.

A lawyer for the Illinois High School Association, which sanctions high school sports in Illinois, argued that there are hundreds of bad calls by game officials every week, and overturning the result of a game would result in courts being flooded with similar cases.

“No contest is perfectly officiated,” IHSA lawyer David Bressler argued. “Fenwick agreed to that when it signed on.”

Fenwick’s Friars were leading Plainfield North 10-7 late in the fourth quarter in last weekend’s game. As time expired, Fenwick quarterback Jacob Keller heaved a fourth-and-15 pass down field while his teammates celebrated the apparent victory on the sideline.

But game officials flagged Keller for intentional grounding and allowed Plainfield North an extra play from the spot of the penalty, the Fenwick five-yard line, which the Tigers converted to a game-tying field goal.

Plainfield North’s Tigers went on to win the game in overtime.

By rule, however, Plainfield North never should have been allowed a final play. IHSA Executive director Craig Anderson released a statement acknowledging as much late Saturday.

“The game should have concluded on the final play of regulation and the untimed down should not have been awarded,” he wrote.