by Kyle Swenson
Cleveland Heights High School is pretty serious about getting into the Ohio football playoffs. So much so that they’re going to near-laughable lengths in the courtroom to get their way.
The school finished off the regular season with a 8-2 record — nothing to go home angry about, that’s for sure. Even better, the school shut the season down with a show-stopper 29-27 win over Shaw. That final win was bittersweet, however; when the Ohio High School Athletic Association sat down to crunch the numbers on which 8 teams would make the playoffs, Cleveland Heights missed the cut, coming in at number 9.
But this week, according to the Plain Dealer, the school filed legal paperwork asking for a temporary restraining order against OHSAA on the grounds that they should be playing post-season ball.
The school believes they should have landed a slot because Cleveland JFK forfeited a game against John Adams, although the actual mechanics of that situation aren’t as simple as they sound.
JKF and John Adams actually played, with the former topping the later 14-8 on October 18. It was later discovered that a player on the winning team failed to turn in a eligibility card. The game went down as a forfeit. When Cleveland Heights matched up against John Adams, the former won; therefore, the playoff decision should weight the win more than a forfeit, argues Cleveland Heights.
But OHSAA didn’t throw the forfeit into its computer when calculating the playoff spots. Turns out, the student was eligible to play in the October 18th game under the OHSAA requirements, which are less strict that Cleveland school’s. Despite Cleveland Heights’ protests, the organization held its ground.
The OHSAA released a statement: "This case is an example of a standard that exceeds OHSAA eligibility bylaws as expressed in Bylaw 4. Therefore, the OHSAA will not require this forfeiture, will not adjust the final computer ratings and our Appeals Panel does not hear appeals of such rulings by a member school. If the school (JFK) wishes to consider this game as a loss in its records and in terms of league standings, that is the school's choice, but the OHSAA will not consider the game a forfeit in terms of the football computer ratings."
The calculations left Cleveland Heights out of the playoffs, surpassed by Mayfield. They appealed the decision, OHSAA denied.
And now they’re taking legal action, which — and we’re dropping ourselves down into the mindset of a 16- or 17- or 18-year-old kid, because that’s really who this all matters to, right? We are talking about high school football — is pretty lame.
The OHSAA appeals process has been maxed out. Having someone’s dad file some legal papers, asking that the whole deal be decided by some olds in a courtroom — that’s really not going to earn the respect of the teenage competition. If you were a CHHS player, would you even want to step out into a playoff contest on the basis not of your team’s record, but because some judge sniffed out a legal technicality? Better to just bag the season, teach the kids about shit luck, try and try harder next time.