A bizarre scenario has unfolded in suburban Chicago, where a season-opening high school football game played out to a surprising, 35-0 rout with the victorious coach later admitting that his squad was so successful because he had received an extremely detailed scouting report on the opposing team from an anonymous source.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, that same scouting report -- which detailed team formations, past injury histories, details so minute it practically included each player's preferred deodorant -- was sent to every opponent on the LaSalle-Peru (Ill.) High schedule. Given how easily Alleman (Ill.) High rocked LaSalle-Peru in its opening game, there seemed to be little question those scouting reports would play a major factor in L-P's season.
"I've never had anything close to this," longtime Alleman football coach David DeJaegher told the Tribune. "I thought it was weird."
The question immediately turned to who was responsible for distributing the unauthorized dossiers. According to the Tribune, suspicions quickly zeroed in on a former assistant coach who was dismissed under controversial circumstances the prior spring.
The former coach in question, Jacob Burke, was and technically remains a longtime school employee, teaching at L-P throughout his football and track assistant coaching career. He claims to have a strong bond to the students at the school, even after he was dismissed from his coaching duties, and has not commented on whether he was involved in the incident.
It seems LaSalle-Peru officials felt that was suspicious enough to all but officially end his involvement with the school. Burke was put on administrative leave on Sept. 4 under investigation about the leaked documents. In fact, if Burke does lose his job, that may be just the tip of the iceberg of charges that may be stacked up against him. As reported by the Tribune, it's possible that the leaked documents may run afoul of the Illinois School Students Record Act, which allows anyone injured by a willful or negligent violation of the law to file a lawsuit against the offender in a county court.
Obviously, any student injured in the process of an L-P game after the release of the game plans would have a case against Burke, should he be proven guilty and the injured students want to pursue legal action.
At the moment, all that seems far away, with L-P coaches and players trying to make sense of an action most now believe was perpetrated by a man who made an impassioned defense of his bond with the very players who were victimized just months earlier. Of particular dissonance now is Burke's statement that a coach's responsibility is, "to teach [student athletes] right from wrong."
"We know it's a bad thing," L-P lineman Conrad Weiden told the Tribune. "We've just got to get over it and move on."
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