ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The early-morning start, the weights, and the sprints are a welcome workout to Jim Ned football player Gatlyn Cooper.

“Football, it’s a way of life for us,” said Jim Ned Athletic Director Matt Fanning.

This year, however, many are questioning if all this work is for nothing.

“It’s hard being able to do this and not know if we’re going to play sports,” said Cooper. “Everyone wants to get to play their season.”

As confidence of a regular season hovers around the 50 yard line, Cooper and his teammates are taking matters into their own hands.

“I think it should be our choice to play football or not,” said Jim Ned running back Xavier Wishert.

Cooper has created a petition to ensure that his teammates can call their own plays this year.

“You know what the risks are involved when you’re going to be playing and what you’re going to be doing around other athletes, but it’s just something you’re going to have to be aware about before you play,” said Cooper.

The petition is not just so he and his fellow underclassmen can hit the field during the pandemic, but for those who may never get to put on the jersey again.

“For some of these seniors, they never know if they’re going to get to step on the field again,” said Cooper. “For them to have film and for them to get these scholarships and everything they’re striving to be as an athlete, it takes a lot, so for them to get to play this season, it’s what could really do it for them.”

While they are marching down field with high petition numbers, the end zone is on Governor Abbott’s desk and the celebration dance is just knowing they will play come fall.

The petition currently has a little more than 600 signatures.

A link to that petition can be found here.