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Illinois high school football team honors first responders while taking field

MASCOUTAH, IL - One Illinois high school football team decided to stand side-by-side with their first responders.  This is while some criticism continues about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.  The homecoming game and celebration also served as a way honor the first responders in their community.

Instead of running to the field like normal, players walked hand and hand with firefighters, police and sheriff officers. Athletic Director Scott Battas says the gesture is not political. This served as a time for them to show appreciation for those who put their lives on the line.

Even though this comes just days after professional NFL players took a knee during the National Anthem in Sunday games, Battas says the team had this planned for weeks.

Some players say they hope their action sends a message.  They want everyone to know that it is time to put differences aside, hear each other, and come together as one.

Many of the first responders say they were football players as well.  This served as another chance for them to hit the field once again as well.