Thoughts of their tornado-ravaged community will dissipate for a couple of hours Saturday when undefeated Washington Community High School football teams straps on their pads for a big playoff game.
Ten players on the team lost their homes on Sunday's tornado, including the quarterback, Colton Marshall.
"It's painful and scary at first, it's shocking to get there and realize it, Marshall said Friday.
The team will square off against Springfield's Sacred Heart, who chartered six buses to take the team and its fans to the game, and will feed them while they're there.
The game is proving to be much bigger than football, and head coach Darrell Crouch has learned a lot about his team during these trying times.
"We're hoping that we build character, we're hoping that we're building people that are going to be great leaders when they come back to our communities, great fathers and husbands," Crouch said.
Team members were out in the community all week, helping their neighbors pick up the pieces left behind from the devastating tornado. But now, at least for a moment, they can concentrate on football.
"These people in this community want us to be there, they want us to be practicing and they want us in this game," player Rogan Brownfield said.
"It gives us one more push. It's a win or go home game, so we're going to be fighting out there and giving it our all tomorrow," linebacker Chris Friend said.
The game will be broadcast on CSN Chicago and streamed online at www.IHSA.tv.