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Coaches and players gather for ‘Let Us Play’ rally in Springfield

SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) -- Local high school coaches and players banded together in the state's capital to send a message: "Let Us Play!"

The 'Let Us Play' rally was a call to action from athletes, coaches, and families for the state to give control back to the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) for planning high school sport seasons.

In late July, the IHSA announced they would defer all return to play plans to the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Governor's Office. Currently, Illinois is the sole Midwest state that is not allowing high school football in the fall.

"If you look at the states around us, we're the only holdout. It just keeps trickling farther and farther holding more teams back. Hopefully, we'll get some good response or at least, get a conversation going and get it back where it should be with the IHSA making that decision," said Washington Panthers football coach Darrell Crouch.

Coaches also expressed their concerns regarding the mental health strain the delay is causing for the student-athletes.

"I just hope that we're looking at everything outside of the physical health of COVID. I hope we're looking at the mental well-being of our students. The physical well-being of our students, the whole-rounded picture," said Farmington Farmers football coach Toby Vallas.

Until they hear news of any changes, student-athletes can only wait for the time being.

"[For] some of us it's our only chance to get out in life to go to college, get scholarships. This is our last shot. I'm a senior. This is our last shot," said Peoria High School senior Darius Bekcum.

Coaches are hoping for a fall football season but also hoping the IHSA can regain control

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