Cleveland Heights takes legal action for high school football playoff spot

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio - Practice makes perfect, which is why the Cleveland Heights Tigers endured Wednesday's rains out on the field. Coaches held practice for the playoffs, only problem is they're not in them.

Cleveland Heights is now taking legal action against the Ohio High School Athletic Association, OHSAA, for a spot in the playoffs.

The Tigers just missed the cut-off, seeded at No. 9, all because of a technicality, according to the High School's Athletic Director, Kristin Hughes. 

Hughes told NewsChannel5 a forfeit in the game between John F. Kennedy and John Adams was supposed to give Heights extra points in the rankings. But instead, Hughes said OHSAA decided otherwise. 

"When we ended up winning Week 10 and we thought we had a chance at the playoffs, we then started to consult Ohio High School to make sure that, that forfeit indeed was going to be counted," said Hughes.

She added, "We got a response back from them over the weekend saying they had discussed it and they're not going to count it as a forfeit because it was a violation of the Metropolitan School District rules, not OHSAA rules."

How important is a playoff spot for Cleveland Heights? 

A coach for the youth Tigers and a former Heights Tiger himself, Yaqoob Basit follows Cleveland Heights' every move and said, "It's extremely important, for all the work they've put in and the fact that for the first time in our history, they got to the playoffs last year.  And this would be a repeat performance of getting back to back… it's huge."

"We're not disputing the bylaws of Ohio HS. We're not disputing the bylaws of CMSD. We're simply saying if you record it as a forfeit, then we don't understand why it's not being counted as a forfeit when comes to the rankings," said Hughes.

The school responded to OHSAA's response by filing a temporary restraining order Tuesday. Hughes said the judge may decide as soon as Thursday because they're pressed for time with Division II playoffs beginning Friday. Division I High School football playoffs are said to begin Saturday.

A volunteer coach, Jason Wilson said, "They work hard every day.  We've been playing our butts off since we lost to Euclid and we laying it all on the line, waiting to see what happens..."

Cleveland Heights players are anxiously awaiting the decision. Meanwhile, Mayfield is set to begin playoffs in Lakewood on Friday. They're the team who supposedly up-seeded Cleveland Heights due to the forfeit issue.

"It's not a win for anybody and that's what's really hard about this. I feel for Mayfield, I feel for the other schools that are involved in this. For us, the best solution would be to have a play-in game and that way, nobody gets hurt," said Hughes.

NewsChannel5 will have news on the outcome when a decision is made.

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