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posted: 10/27/2015 5:40 AM

South Elgin youth football team fights playoff ban

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A South Elgin Youth Football League team is fighting a ban from the playoffs following accusations that it stacked the roster, which the team denies.

Patriots head coach Steve Wascher said the senior varsity team, made up mostly of eighth-graders, started in the "silver" level of the Bill George Youth Football League and was moved up to the "gold" -- more advanced -- level after it posted a 9-0 record. The team won the first six games and got three more victories after opposing teams forfeited, he said.

The team played -- and won -- one game at the gold level, and then league officials decided the Patriots shouldn't play any more, accusing South Elgin of stacking, or picking its best players for the silver team, Wascher said.

"They accused us of being deceitful," he said.

Wascher said the Patriots have hired an attorney who has already contacted league officials.

Jerry Miller, president of the Bill George league board, declined to comment, citing advice from the league's attorney. Representatives of other teams -- who Wascher said forfeited without much explanation -- were not immediately available for comment.

The Patriots players and their families are upset, said Erica LaBarre of Hampshire, whose younger cousin is on the team.

"They're really beat down," she said. "They have worked so hard this entire season only to be told they can't play in the playoffs because they have won too many games and no other team wants to play them."

Meanwhile, the Patriots organization wants to send its silver-turned-gold team to the National Youth Football Championships Nov. 25-28 in Florida, Wascher said. A GoFundMe page was set up to help raise money for the trip. The page describes the events through the eyes of the Patriots, stating, "The team's post season in the BGYFL playoffs is now in the hands of attorneys and possibly the court system."

The Patriots this year were given two senior varsity spots in the Bill George league, one silver and one gold, and decided its gold team should comprise members of an Elgin team that recently joined the South Elgin league and whose players are bigger, Wascher said.

Meanwhile, the silver team consisted mostly of kids who had played in the league previously.

"We just coached these kids and got them better," Wascher said.

Patriots board president John Cheloni also denied doing anything improper. The team's roster was reviewed several times by league officials -- including Miller -- before the first three games of the season, Cheloni said.

Last year, the Patriots had three gold teams but all did poorly, Cheloni said, adding it didn't occur to him to push for a second gold spot this year. "That's what was left (a silver spot), so that's what we did," he said.

The Patriots say they haven't been told exactly which league rules or bylaws are driving the league's decisions.

"We'd love to still play in the playoffs," Wascher said, "for the boys."

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