Ruling Could Knock Teams Out of OHSAA Playoffs
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Just over 24 hours before the start of the 2012 OHSAA Football Playoffs, it is still unclear exactly which teams will be playing.
The Cleveland Heights-University School District won an injunction filed against the OHSAA in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court on Thursday, which could put both the Tigers and Beachwood in the playoffs, at the expense of Mayfield and Ashtabula Edgewood.
4:45 p.m. UPDATE:
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has issued the following statement:
“The OHSAA was notified today of a Cuyahoga County court’s decision to rule in favor of Cleveland Heights regarding the football eligibility of another school, which results in Cleveland Heights receiving enough computer points to earn the eighth and final spot in the Division I, Region 1 playoffs. The OHSAA is working with its legal team and the legal teams of the schools affected by this decision to pursue our next course of action. Because of second-level computer points, the court’s decision has many implications for other teams and regions of the playoffs, which are scheduled to begin Friday night. To be clear, the student-athlete in question at the school which forfeited its game was eligible by all OHSAA standards.”
OHSAA Spokesman Tim Stried told FOX 8 News earlier Thursday that internal meetings were underway to decide the course of action. He later said it was possible a higher court could rule on the conflicting court orders.
When the official playoff pairings were announced, Mayfield (6-4) was scheduled to play top-ranked St. Edward (10-0) in a Region 1 quarterfinal, while Ashtabula Edgewood (6-3) was slated to face unbeaten Brookfield (10-0) in a Region 13 quarterfinal matchup. However, the status of both of those games is up in the air.
If Thursday’s court ruling stands, Mayfield and Edgewood would be left out of the playoffs, with Cleveland Heights (8-2) and Beachwood (7-3) taking their places.
Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that either Beachwood or Edgewood is scheduled to take the field in just over 24 hours against Brookfield.
Fox 8’s John Telich spoke with Mayfield High School Athletic Director Mike Barnes, who said, “We are disappointed in the judge’s decision and also disappointed for our kids and feel this is gonna impact a lot of kids. We are gathering our facts and putting a plan together based on the judge’s decision. We are prepared to fight for our kids and they are looking forward to playing. They have been preparing all week and we are gonna do our best to protect their interests.”
The controversy stems from an OHSAA’s decision to not recognize a forfeited game involving two schools in the Cleveland Senate Athletic League. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District retroactively ruled a John F. Kennedy player academically ineligible for the Eagles’ Oct. 18 game against John Adams, which JFK won, 14-8.
However, the OHSAA’s academic standards are not as strict as CMSD’s, so the forfeit was denied on the grounds that the player was technically eligible under state standards.
Cleveland Heights defeated John Adams in week two, Aug. 31, while Edgewood beat JFK last Friday, Oct. 26. If the forfeit stands, Adams would have one more win, and JFK one fewer, giving Cleveland Heights enough second-level playoff points to jump Mayfield, which finished eighth, with 20.4000 computer points, narrowly edging out the Tigers who finished ninth with 20.0500 points.
If JFK losed a victory over another division one opponent, Edgewood’s week ten victory over the Eagles would also be devalued, to the point that Beachwood’s final computer point total of 13.4540 would be enough to push the Bisons past Edgewood.
FOX 8 spoke to Brookfield Athletic Director Tim Taylor, who said his team is also waiting for the OHSAA’s final ruling, so the Warriors will know which opponent they will be facing Friday night, in a game that has already been moved to Girard’s Arrowhead Stadium, due to unplayable conditions at Brookfield.
Stay with FOX 8 News for updates on this developing story.