Prairie Seeds' biggest challenge isn't on field

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 25, 2012 - 9:36 PM

The charter school has filed for an injunction that it hopes will let the team participate in today's soccer state tournament.

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Youssef Darbaki, head soccer coach and athletic director at Prairie Seeds Academy.

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Star Tribune

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Prairie Seeds Academy's boys' soccer team isn't ready to give up on its season.

The charter school has filed for an injunction to stop the Minnesota State High School League's ruling that disqualified the Lycans from playing in this week's Class 1A state tournament, Principal Choua Yang said Thursday afternoon.

"We are trying to fight," Yang said.

The school's lawyer took legal action Wednesday night after the high school league's announcement that an investigation into a postgame fight at the section championship determined Prairie Seeds had played the entire season with an ineligible player. As of Thursday night, the Prairie Seeds counsel was still waiting for a response from a judge.

Hopeful players knocked on boys' soccer coach Youssef Darbaki's door throughout the day seeking an update. He couldn't offer the group much clarity but informed his players they would continue to prepare for Friday's game.

"We're not going to know until the final whistle," Darbaki said. "Just let us know, are we in or are we out? The judge will make his decision and let us know."

Yang said the high school league's ruling surprised those associated with Prairie Seeds soccer. The school expected several player suspensions as a result of a brawl that erupted after the Lycans beat Totino-Grace in the section final. But nothing that involved eligibility was discussed at a meeting with the high school league, she said.

"They just didn't communicate to us," Yang said. "It was hurtful."

Prairie Seeds responded by providing its lawyer with documentation that school officials believe proves the eligibility of the player under question.

Duluth Marshall athletic director Kevin Snyder said the boys' team is continuing to practice as if it is going to play Prairie Seeds Academy in the Class 1A quarterfinals in Roseville.

Snyder said Thursday morning that the high school league told him that "Prairie Seeds might try to file an injunction'' to block the disqualification and thus allow it to play. "They asked us to practice as if we're playing them Friday," Snyder said. "Let's just say I didn't cancel the buses.''

The high school league's website still shows Friday's third quarterfinal game involving Prairie Seeds and Marshall is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., despite Wednesday's news release that said Marshall would advance to Monday's semifinal game at the metrodome.

Though the forfeit of the section championship game made Totino-Grace the winner, several other teams also could make a case for going to state because all of the Lycans' games involving the ineligible player became forfeits.

"We don't know which team might have advanced in the section tournament had Prairie Seeds Academy not played,'' high school league executive director Dave Stead said. "I got e-mails from people at Monticello [which Prairie Seeds defeated 12-0 in the section semis] asking, 'Why aren't we going to state?' I'm sure a lot of teams are thinking that."

Totino-Grace athletic director Mike Smith said Thursday that "it is a bad deal'' that no team from its section will play in the state tournament.

Staff writer David La Vaque contributed to this story. Jason Gonzalez • 612-673-4494

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