Nightly News   |  November 18, 2013

Illinois football team rebuilding in tornado’s aftermath

The Washington Community High football team was experiencing a high with an undefeated season. But now, instead of running drills members are sorting through tornadic debris and trying to plan for what’s next. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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>>> finally here tonight let's go back to the midwest where, as we said, a lot of good people are coming forward tonight in a very bad situation. some of them happen to be players and coaches helping out where the immediate is greatest. kate snow has our report from washington , illinois.

>>> washington community high's varsity football players were supposed to have workouts this week, but not like this. instead of running offensive drills, coach darrell crouch was helping his players sift through the devastation of their town. it was just saturday when the panthers took their record to 12-0, a victory that would send them to the illinois state semifinals.

>> you are riding on top of the world .

>> pretty much so. our town, we get back to the semifinals for the first time since, like, 1985 , so very huge day that day, and then by 11:00 the next day, just this.

>> reporter: one assistant coach and at least eight of his players have lost their homes, including his starting quarterback. casey danly is the star running back. this afternoon he was helping a thankful homeowner recover clothing.

>> everyone comes to the games. they're always packed.

>> now you're coming out for them.

>> we're coming out for them now. it's the right thing to do.

>> this is your house?

>> this was our house, yes.

>> reporter: jeff hid in the basement with his wife, 3-year-old and 9-month-old.

>> it's sad. we'll rebuild, but we got the biggest thing, which was my family, so we'll take care of the rest.

>> reporter: the players were here to help him uncover buried keep sakes.

>> howure going to handle things when you are difficult, how you're going to handle things when you think something say major disaster. we have one now, and they're all -- we talk about leaders step up, and they did.

>> tomorrow they'll start practicing again, preparing for saturday's big game . a reason to cheer for this battered town. kate snow , nbc news, washington , illinois.