H.S. football program suspended after brawl

September 10, 2009 (NORTH CHICAGO, Ill.) The Illinois High School Association says that North Chicago will forfeit its game against Vernon Hills this weekend.

The Simeon program was not suspended. But some Simeon players are also being disciplined.

On Thursday night, Simeon high's football team practiced and prepped for a Friday game against Orr High. The team will get to move forward after a fight broke out last week against North Chicago High.

On Thursday, the Illinois High School Association suspended North Chicago's football program until further notice.

"Two wrongs don't make a right and it doesn't matter that Simeon did or didn't do whatever occurred. I worry about our kids and we will have accountability," said former Chicago Bear Coach Glen Kozlowski, North Chicago H.S. football coach.

"Simeon should get the same thing that we had. I feel that they did the right thing, because we were fighting. We did something wrong," said Jovey White, North Chicago H.S. football player.

Simeon was the visiting team. The varsity squads were playing, and five minutes were left in the first quarter when chaos unfolded on the field. Simeon was up 21-0.

"Our players blocked one of their players. Their player hit one of our players and their whole team came," said one witness.

"We don't go out to fight, we go out to play football," said Steve Taylor, Simeon H.S. football player.

The football fight was caught on camera and that's how the Illinois High School Association made its decision.

"Very clear video of a young man stomping on the head of a player from Simeon. There's a number of instances where there are several players around a Simeon player, attacking that player, you know, three or four or five on one," said Marty Hickman, IHSA executive director.

Simeon players say problems with North Chicago started before the game. They say North Chicago players threw rocks at their bus and there were other concerns.

"They were throwing up gang signs up at our bus....they were trying to sneak in through the back," said a witness.Eight Simeon players have also been suspended.

A Chicago Public Schools spokesman released a statement on Thursday night, saying in part: "Although the Simeon students did not instigate the altercation, we believe it is in the best interest of the students to learn from this experience through disciplinary action."

The Illinois High School Association will be meeting with North Chicago High School officials on Monday. They're going to discuss two different issues; how long the football program will be suspended, and the plan to make sure that another football fight will not happen.

There was no word on Thursday night on the future of North Chicago's football program but Coach Kozlowski says his goal, ultimately, is to turn boys into men.

"Our purpose is we use football...it's a game. It's nothing more than a game. We want them to be successful because things you learn in football you can apply to your life," said Kozlowski.

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