Illinois football team stands with law enforcement, veterans during national anthem

Illinois football team stands with law enforcement, veterans during national anthem

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Illinois football team stands with law enforcement, veterans during national anthem

In light of NFL players’ protests during the national anthem, it was only natural that the movement reached the prep ranks.

While there is not uniformity on where the protests fit into America’s fabric, one Illinois football went in a different direction Friday night.

Members of the Mascoutah (Ill.) took the field Friday night for their homecoming game against Triad (Troy, Ill.) standing with members of local law enforcement, firefighters and veterans.

“I think it is vital to strengthening relationships between police and community because you can’t just show up when a crime is being committed,” Illinois State Trooper Calvin Dye, Jr. told KMOV-TV Friday night.

As the Belleville News-Democrat reported, the event was conceived during the first week of the school year by Mascoutah athletic director Scott Battas. After Battas met with senior football players, the four Mascoutah players — Nick Thurston, Darius Cooley, Dylan Ross and Treshaun Buckingham — polled others in the Indians locker room. Cooley told the News-Democrat the team decided to go forward as planned with no hesitation.

Battas insisted, however, that it was unrelated to the NFL player protests.

“That other stuff doesn’t matter,” Cooley told the News-Democrat after the game, a 24-7 Triad victory. “We came together collectively as a team, put whatever differences of opinion there may be aside, and decided we wanted to come together and do this for our homecoming game.”

“In high school we play for each other. It’s not about the individuals or whose opinion is bigger,” Thurston added. “We all respect each other and recognize that everyone comes from a different perspective and have different opinions. That’s all OK.

“At the end of the day, we have each others’ back, and we play for each other.”

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