WASHINGTON, Ill. (KMOX) – There’s the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat but sometimes sports can be much more than that.

In the wake of last weekend’s deadly tornado in Washington, Illinois, the town’s high school football team travels to Springfield Saturday to play Sacred Heart Griffin in the state semifinals.

SHG football coach and athletic director Ken Leonard says his team’s parents and the community have stepped up to take care of some of Washington’s worries.

“We got seven charter buses set up for them coming down, we’ve got pregame meals and post-game meals for their football team, we’re going to feed up to 2,000 Washington fans, and we’ve probably collected over $50,000,” Leonard said.

A Washington High School tradition is serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to players before games. Leonard says the Springfield parents have volunteered to take on that responsibility this weekend.

“They just want to play football and that’s what we want to do too. This is a huge game, one step away from the state championship and we want to make it the best game possible,” Leonard said.

The big game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Chicago beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Leonard says the experience has been a life lesson for his players on caring for their fellow man.

“How do you handle adversity? It’s one thing to talk the talk but it’s another thing to walk the walk and I think our kids have learned a lot as far as that goes.”


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