Mater Dei head football coach Jim Stiebel walked off the field in Canton on Friday insisting that his team was robbed of its second straight Illinois 4A quarterfinal win by poor officiating.
He suggested the school would challenge “the worst reffing I’ve ever seen” with a formal appeal to the Illinois High School Association, asking it to review cell phone video footage of a decisive play.
But those harsh words — quoted in newspapers and on media web sites from Breese to Peoria — came purely out of frustration, said Mater Dei Athletic Director Ron Schadegg.
Even if the IHSA allowed game protests, Mater Dei wouldn’t attempt one, he added.
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“That was 100 percent emotion,” Schadegg said of Stiebel’s post-game comments. “We have to give credit where credit is due, but we can’t question the officials and we’re not going to attempt to.
Speaking on behalf of the school, we feel bad about the way we were talking after the game and that it got into the newspapers. There was a lot of emotion and sometimes it takes 24 or 48 hours to recognize it and move on.
Ron Schadegg, Mater Dei athletic director
“Speaking on behalf of the school, we feel bad about the way we were talking after the game and that it got into the newspapers. There was a lot of emotion and sometimes it takes 24 or 48 hours to recognize it and move on.”
The Knights scored a touchdown with six seconds left to narrow Canton’s lead to 43-42. Stiebel elected to attempt a two-point conversion for the win instead of kicking the point-after to tie and likely send the game to overtime.
Senior fullback Trever Johnson’s number was called on a running play toward the left end. He dove through a pair of Canton defenders and reached out toward the goal line with the football.
The official standing at the pylon ruled that the ball did not cross the goal line.
Canton held on for a 43-42 victory and advanced to the semifinal game at Rochester Saturday. The Knights’ season ended at 7-5.
Smart phone video footage from various angles were texted to the Belleville News-Democrat and posted on social media within an hour of the game’s end.
Stiebel said Friday night that the footage was conclusive. Schadegg on Monday didn’t say one way or the other what he thought of it.
We barely got into the dance and to make it to the elite eight is pretty special. They can’t take what we did this season away from us. So I'm trying to keep a smile on my face.
Colin Schuetz, Mater Dei senior quarterback
“That would do nothing but take away from what two good football teams did on the field. That’s not who we are or who we want to be,” he said. “Both teams played a great ballgame and it’s a shame somebody had to lose. Obviously, we wish all the best of luck to Canton going forward.”
Even if the game video was conclusive, the IHSA has no procedure that allows member schools to appeal a field decision. Bylaws specifically state “The decisions of game officials shall be final.”
Knights’ quarterback Colin Schuetz, who completed 20 of 30 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns in the loss, was running as a decoy toward the opposite end of the field and didn’t see the outcome of the controversial play.
But even in the game’s emotional aftermath, the mater Dei senior seemed content to live with the official’s ruling.
“There are a lot of emotions right now, but that’s alright, it’s football,” he said. “To lose at this point one way or the other, it’s gut wrenching. But you have to look back at the good things. We barely got into the dance and to make it to the elite eight is pretty special. They can’t take what we did this season away from us. So I’m trying to keep a smile on my face.”