Simeon quarterback Alante Brown is caught in a swirl of controversy, but the Michigan State recruit is handling it with more poise and grace than most of the adults.
A Simeon alumni group and parents of Simeon football players sued the Illinois High School Association on Friday. The lawsuit claims that a Nazareth parent dressed as a football official, stood on the sideline and influenced the referees in the Roadrunners’ 34-27 win against the Wolverines in the Class 7A state quarterfinals on Nov. 10.
Nazareth won in the semifinals last weekend and is scheduled to play St. Charles North in the state title game on Saturday in Champaign.
The lawsuit calls for the IHSA to strip Nazareth of the win and refrain from employing the officiating crew that worked the game.
“I have mixed emotions [about the lawsuit],” Brown said. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to the Nazareth team. I want them to finish the season and get a chance to win the state championship. They beat us and they deserve it.”
Brown maintains that he scored a touchdown on Simeon’s second to last play of the game.
“I’m 100 percent sure I was in,” Brown said. “On film you can see where my left foot was. At first they called me out of bounds. Then they told a coach I hit the back of the pylon so it wasn’t a touchdown.”
Simeon’s run was stuffed on the next play. There was a confusing scene and time expired as the Wolverines attempted to line up and snap the ball. The officials were unable to place the ball down in time.
“Honestly I don’t think the ref did it on purpose but when the Nazareth player knocked the ball out of his hand that is when the flag should have come in,” Brown said. “I have a lot of anger because of how the last play went. Now there are just all kinds of different emotions.”
Fans and supporters on social media have accused Nazareth and the officials of racism.
“No, I don’t think it has to do with that,” Brown said. “There have just been so many emotions for all of us, the players and the coaches. We have been hurting a lot.”
Nazareth coach Tim Racki declined to comment on the issue on Sunday night.
IHSA spokesman Matt Troha says that there has been no official notice about any litigation so the group has no comment.
Cook County Circuit court has a hearing scheduled on the case in March. But Shay Allen, the attorney representing the Simeon group, said on Monday he will file a motion to have the case heard in the next few days.
“I don’t want Nazareth to get the punishment,” Brown said “I want the officiating crew and the adults to face the punishment. I don’t have anything against the Nazareth kids. They beat us and they played a great game.”