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Chicago Public Schools cancels Week 7 football games over Van Dyke verdict safety concerns

Raby's Marshawn Foster (7) gains yards. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Thirty-five Public League football games scheduled for Friday and Saturday have been canceled in the wake of the Jason Van Dyke trial.

Not playing the games will knock some teams out of the state playoffs and severely impact the playoff seeding for teams like Phillips and Simeon.

Chicago Public Schools informed coaches and athletic directors on Friday evening that the games were canceled “out of an abundance of caution regarding the timing of the Van Dyke trial verdict announcement.”

Joliet Herald-News sports editor Steve Soucie, the state’s premier football bracketologist, says the loss of a game could drop Simeon from a No. 1 or No. 2 seed to an 8 or 9. Phillips could drop from a 6 to a 12 or 13. Raby could miss the playoffs entirely if they don’t play a Week 7 game.

The Illinois High School Association only allows teams to play once a week, which would normally rule out making up the games on Monday. However, on Friday evening a source at the IHSA said they were considering making an exception in this situation.

Loyola and De La Salle canceled their Friday night game, but rescheduled it for Monday.

Public League coaches and athletic directors are, for the most part, afraid to publicly disagree with the CPS. They are worried about their jobs. However, the players took to Twitter on Friday night.

“What happened today had absolutely nothing to do with football,” tweeted Phillips senior and Illinois recruit Fabian McCray. “I don’t understand why our games are being canceled. For some kids football is the only thing that they look forward to every day. We should be able to play the game we love.”

“Let us play,” tweeted Curie running back AJ Sanya. “Football is our therapy. It helps us get away from problems. This one week can be the deciding factor for getting a scholarship offer or quitting and being on the streets.”

It’s unclear why the CPS won’t allow the teams to play on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. The CPS did not respond to inquiries.

Young athletic director Chris Cassidy supports the CPS decision to cancel the games.

“If you are going to err, than do it on the side of safety,” tweeted Cassidy.

On Friday night a group of prominent football coaches lobbied CPS brass to allow the games to be played later this weekend but said “they wouldn’t budge.”

Several Catholic schools postponed Friday games until later in the weekend. Hope Academy and Leo played on the West Side on Friday night.

“We did pretty well to keep the game safe for fans and players,” Hope Academy Athletic Director Keith Sanders said. “Can’t have another senior night taken away from us.”

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