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Family of Chatfield QB files lawsuit seeking to overturn suspension

The family of Chatfield's varsity quarterback is seeking to overturn a suspension so that he may play in the Class AA state football championship game on Friday in Minneapolis.

111821-CHATFIELD-BARNESVILLE-STATE-SEMI-9840.jpg
Chatfield’s Sam Backer (21) passes the ball during a Class AA State Football Semifinal game against Barnesville Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Traci Westcott

The starting quarterback of Chatfield's state championship-contending football team is attempting to overturn a suspension and return to the field for the final game by taking legal action.

A lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court in Minnesota is on behalf of S.B. a minor child, through his parents.

The family is identified in court documents by their initials, but the lawsuit states that S.B. "is the starting quarterback for the Chatfield Varsity Football Team."

Sam Backer is the team's starting quarterback.

Backer, a junior, was ejected in the third quarter of the Class AA football state semifinal game last Thursday, Nov. 18, against Barnesville for accumulating two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the game.

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Chatfield rallied to win 22-18 and advance to Friday's Class AA Prep Bowl, the state championship game, against West Central Area/Ashby. That game is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Charles K. Maier, one of the attorneys representing the family, declined to comment, saying the filings speak for themselves.

Under Minnesota State High School League rules, the ejection carries an automatic disqualification from the game in which the penalties occurred and the next game.

The lawsuit alleges the suspension was "improper."

"Under Minnesota law, interscholastic sports participation is a constitutionally protected property right included as part of a student’s right to an education, which cannot be taken away without due process," the filing says. "Due to the MSHSL’s lack of an appeals process for review of unsportsmanlike conduct penalty calls leading to ejection and subsequent automatic suspension, SB was denied a constitutionally protected property right without due process."

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order lifting the suspension.

Backer is one of the top football players in the state. The junior has rushed for 2,366 yards and 39 touchdowns this season for the Gophers, who take a 12-1 record into Friday's Prep Bowl. They have won 12 consecutive games since suffering a season-opening loss to Plainview-Elgin-Millville, which will play in the Class AAA state championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday against Dassel-Cokato.

Backer rushed for 69 yards and a touchdown against Barnesville prior to his ejection.

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One of Backer's unsportsmanlike penalties occurred when he was running the ball.

“They (officials) did not explain it to me,” Chatfield head coach Jeff Johnson said after the semifinal game. “All I heard from guys on our sideline was they (defenders) wrapped up his leg and they wouldn’t let it go and he was trying to kick himself free.”

S.B. U.S. District Court lawsuit by inforumdocs on Scribd

Emily Cutts is the Post Bulletin's public safety reporter. She joined the Post Bulletin in July 2018 after stints in Vermont and Western Massachusetts.
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