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Glenbard North won't forfeit playoff victory in wake of unruly fans' actions
By Catherine Edman and Ashok Selvam | Daily Herald Staff

Glenbard North High fans race onto the field after the playoff victory against Fremd. The IHSA is investigating complaints about subsequent taunts and stolen equipment.

 

Marcelle Bright | Staff Photographer

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Published: 11/13/2007 12:10 AM | Updated: 11/14/2007 12:25 AM

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Glenbard North High School's spot in the state football semifinals this weekend is secure, an IHSA official said today.

That's because football players on both sides stayed out of the post-victory taunting that took place after Glenbard beat Fremd High School in a hard-fought game on Saturday, said Beth Sauser, assistant executive director of the IHSA.

"No football players were involved," she said.

However, an investigation into the behavior of more than 100 students immediately after the game continues.

Earlier Coverage

Both the Carol Stream school and the IHSA are investigating the theft of Fremd football helmets and a camera from the sidelines after some fans in the Glenbard North stands jumped a chain-link fence to race across the field. They taunted Fremd High School players and coaches, as well as students and family members face-to-face.

But on the heels of a story that appeared in some editions of today's Daily Herald, many Glenbard North supporters were reacting angrily. They say Fremd fans behaved poorly, too, even initiating some of the bad blood with a on line video and taunting comments of their own.

The hard feelings boiled over Saturday after Glenbard North clinched the close quarterfinal game against Fremd. Students from the Carol Stream school's home stands hopped a chain-link fence to race across the field.

They taunted Fremd players and coaches, as well as students and family members face-to-face. And they snagged some of the Palatine team's football helmets along with a camera as the spoils of victory, officials said.

Glenbard North officials say they are conducting their own probe.

The idea of sanctions against the school slated to play Mt. Carmel in the Class 8A semifinal this weekend were not farfetched.

"Especially with concentrated efforts on sportsmanship, those are to be adhered to by athletes as well as fans," said Anthony Holman, IHSA assistant executive director.

Glenbard North Principal John Mensik sent letters of apology to Fremd Monday, saying he'll replace any equipment that was taken or destroyed. But he knows the long-lasting damage will be harder to repair.

"Something like this has not happened before, and I'm disappointed in the kids who took part in this," Mensik said. "Glenbard North's credibility took a hit a little bit."

Fremd Principal Marina Scott said that in her 20 years in education she's never witnessed such poor sportsmanship and such "scary moments."

Scott said she saw Glenbard fans -- some wearing T-shirts disparaging Fremd -- tear down Fremd posters and get right up in the faces of her players.

"I'm not going to say what they said because it was so horrible," Scott said.

She was pleased Fremd students did not escalate the situation.

The episode was not without injury. Though no punches were thrown, a Fremd cheerleading coach bruised her arm in the chaos and filed an accident report Monday at school.

"She was hit pretty hard," Scott said. "It brought tears to her eyes."

A Fremd cheerleader also suffered a blow to the head, and officials made sure she went home with her parents after the game, Scott said.

Fremd parents inundated the district and IHSA with complaints after the game.

Greg Lombard, the father of a Fremd player, described the event as a "mini-riot."

"They were shouting expletives at our fans, taunting our fans and trying to get us to engage in fights," he said.

Lombard, of Inverness, sent an e-mail Monday to Fremd parents titled "A Call to Action," urging them to file a report with the IHSA.

"This is not sour grapes about the game," he said. "We know that we lost the game. This is an issue of lack of security."

Mensik said Carol Stream police were present and all gates leading onto the field were chained shut. No one was arrested, and no criminal complaints were filed after the game, Carol Stream Police Chief Rick Willing said.

After talking to a number of the students Monday, Mensik said some initially believed they would take a victory lap on the track. Others thought they'd make a tunnel for their athletes to run through.

Regardless, Mensik said "the behavior was not condoned by anyone" and no fans should have been on the field.

"When we saw (the taunting) was taking place, we were pushing our students away from the bench and getting them away from the sideline," Mensik said.

By then, though, the two sides were lobbing water bottles at each other along with verbal volleys.

Fremd Athletic Director Jack Drollinger confirmed the thefts and said it was a case of poor judgment by young Glenbard fans.

"It's just a scene that you never hope would ever happen," he said. "Hopefully, they learn a lesson on how to handle things."

Mensik said they've had no problems all year and outstanding fan and student support. But given this weekend's episode, the school is addressing what changes it needs to make, whether it's more security or pre-game announcements about proper behavior.

Daily Herald staff writers Sara Faiwell, Jack Komperda and Josh Welge contributed to this report.