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Did HS Team Blow Off Final Game to Ice Playoff Spot?

Paul Steinbach

A special report in the Detroit Free Press accuses Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy of opting to not play its final football game of the season in order to preserve its 4-4 record and Michigan state playoff eligibility.

“Never had one scheduled,” football coach and athletic director John Jergovich said. “Eight-game schedule this year.”

Earlier this week, according to the Free Press report, the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s website had Chandler Park playing Friday at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood, a member of the Detroit Catholic High School League.

“Must have been a misprint or something,” Jergovich said. “No contract, no nothing.”

Catholic League director Vic Michaels said he had a two-game agreement with Jergovich. Chandler Park would play at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in Week 3 and receive $2,000, and in Week 9 would play the fourth-place team in Double A, which wound up being Cranbrook.

“I agreed to play Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Week 3,” Jergovich said, “and that’s what I did.”

He insisted Cranbrook was never on the MHSAA calendar as an opponent. That calendar is the only one that matters, but it is worth noting that multiple websites list Chandler Park visiting Cranbrook at 7 p.m. Friday, including michigan-football.com (by conference and by each school) and MaxPreps.com.

“I’ve never seen a game for Week 9 for us," he said. "Swear to God.”

“He’s lying about a bunch of things,” the Catholic League's Michaels said. 

Michaels said he spoke to Jergovich on Tuesday after Jergovich informed Catholic League associate director Mike Evoy that Chandler Park was not going to play Cranbrook. “He told me: ‘No, why would I? I don’t have a contract. We’re in the playoffs, I don’t need the game to get in. Why would I play?’ "

The MHSAA is powerless to do anything because there is no written contract between the schools, the Free Press reported.

As former Free Press columnist Mick McCabe notes, "It seems ridiculous that a coach would intentionally schedule only eight games. Chandler Park is not a powerhouse that schools dodge. Jergovich said his team has about 25 players and he wanted a week off before the playoffs. It's a ludicrous argument. This isn’t basketball, where teams play 20-game regular-season schedules. This is football and it has a limited schedule, and each week is special."

Cranbrook rented lights for its week eight game, and decided to pay to keep them for week nine, as well. But that proved unnecessary.

"Making this more distasteful is that the Catholic League has routinely bailed out Jergovich, providing opponents because the Charter School League has only five conference games a season," McCabe writes. "And hell may have to freeze over before a Catholic League team will ever schedule Chandler Park Academy in a regular-season game again.

“We’re done with them,” Michaels said, adding that the league will now favor scheduling contracts over verbal agreements. “We’re done with this whole situation. If you can’t trust a guy like that, why would I set up a game with him?”

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