Fenwick files lawsuit against IHSA over loss to Plainfield North

FOX 32 NEWS - A west suburban school is going to court after a bad call was made during a playoff football game.

Last Saturday, Fenwick High School played Plainfield North in the Class 7A semi-finals when the referees made a controversial move. 

Fenwick was ahead 10-7 in the fourth quarter when the quarterback was flagged for intentional grounding. A referee then gave one free play to Plainfield North with no time left in the game. Plainfield North scored a field goal to tie the game and went on to win the game in overtime. That win will send them to the state championship against East St. Louis Senior High to be played in Champaign this Saturday.

"Such a big disappointment and it sounds like it could have easily been rectified at the time," said Michele Janc, a Fenwick parent.

Illinois High School Association Executive Director Craig Anderson said the referee crew admitted the error after the game, but said in a statement released Saturday that according to the bylaws:

“The decisions of the game officials shall be final; protests against the decision of a game official shall not be reviewed by the board of directors."

On Monday night, Fenwick school officials filed a motion in Cook County court asking for an emergency order to overturn the results of the semi-finals game.

School officials filed an appeal with IHSA Monday morning, but they would not hear the appeal.

“I feel that it is clear, that in that specific play that the game had ended if you look at the rulebook,” said Fenwick Principal Peter Groom.

Groom says they feel based on the rules of how the game should have been called, their team has the right to play in the championship Saturday.

Fenwick has a court date in Cook Count Wednesday at 9:30am.

FOX 32 reached out to officials at Plainfield North for comment and haven't heard back.

Full statement from IHSA: “On the final play of the fourth quarter in today’s IHSA Class 7A Semifinal Football game between Fenwick High School and Plainfield North High School, an error was made by the officiating crew, which resulted in an untimed down being awarded to Plainfield North.

On the untimed down, Plainfield North tied the contest with a field goal and then went on to win the game in overtime. Per Rule 3-3-4 in the 2016 NFHS Football Rules Book, the game should have concluded on the final play of regulation and the untimed down should not have been awarded.

IHSA by-law 6.033 clearly states that “the decisions of game officials shall be final; protests against the decision of a game official shall not be reviewed by the Board of Directors.”

Given that rule, the contest result shall remain final with Plainfield North advancing to the Class 7A State Championship.

On behalf of the IHSA, I express my sincerest apologies to Coach Nudo and his players and coaching staff, as well as to the entire Fenwick administration and community. I understand that it will be difficult to find a silver lining in this particular situation, but I do hope that Fenwick takes pride in all they accomplished today and this season.

There is no doubt that the crew assigned to officiate this contest by the IHSA should have known this rule and they were forthcoming about the error in conversations after the game. The crew also understands that there will be an assessment of their performance and consequences from the IHSA as a result of this error.

We will continue to be proactive in our efforts to educate our officials, while also working with our membership and Board of Directors, of which Fenwick Principal Peter Groom is a valued member, to evaluate IHSA by-laws and policy related to officiating."

Statement from Fenwick High School regarding legal action: "During the Saturday, Nov. 10 7A State Semi-final football game between Plainfield North High School and Fenwick High School, play was extended beyond regulation playing time in direct violation of Illinois High School Association (IHSA) rules governing football, which eventually led to a loss for Fenwick. Pursuant to the outcome of the game, IHSA invited Fenwick to submit an appeal to the IHSA Board. Early Monday morning, the IHSA Board determined that it would not hear the appeal. As a result, in an effort to protect the rights and rightfully earned opportunities of its students, Fenwick High School has filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois seeking declaratory, injunctive and other relief against IHSA. Please see the lawsuit for further details."