Washington IL tornado: Community rallies around football team preparing for Saturday playoff game

November 22, 2013 (WASHINGTON, Ill.)

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The football game in Springfield is shaping up to be something that is a moment of hope for the people who are dealing with the devastation that is going nowhere.

The game may be the last one for so many seniors on the Washington High School football team, but they know they are playing for more than just themselves, they're playing for their town, to give them something to hold onto.

A team is now in the national spotlight as they prepared to play for the right to go to the state 5A championship.

"At times like this, we need to be behind the community, that's why we were out there those two days helping cleaning up," said center Brogan Brownfield. "We know the community will always be behind us, especially this weekend."

Their coach grows quiet when thinking about how many of his players came out of church Sunday morning and ran into the disaster zone to help even though many, as it turned out, were victims as well.

"The biggest thing you can do to help your town is give them that two-hour escape of bringing you the chance to go watch our guys play," said Head Coach Darrell Crouch.

The Panthers of Washington High School carry the hopes of a devastated town.

As residents were let back in to pick through what's left, United States Senator Dick Durbin called what he saw the worst tornado damage he's ever encountered and promised a fight on Capitol Hill if anyone doesn't think this deserves full federal emergency assistance.

And then amid the debris, a moment of hope, as a family finds their cat in the aftermath of the terrible power that was unleashed.

"He's been living in my basement since the tornado, so I got to get him to the vet, I want to make sure he's okay," said Darren Carlock.

Chalk up one live used for that cat, who was found in the debris.

The people of Washington, Illinois understand that Saturday's football game is just a football game, but they want to win as a marking event for the town to start moving forward.

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