The Texas School For the Deaf football team won a historical state championship on Friday, beating its crosstown rival, Veritas, to secure the program's first ever state championship. And the victory came during a season that almost didn't happen, according to the school's superintendent.
"I seriously considered cancelling the whole football program this year," superintendent Claire Bugen told Today before the game. In addition to the pandemic, the team's depleted roster couldn't field enough players for an 11-player team. In order to have a season at all, the program dropped to a lower division to play six-player football. And with all the players and coaches being deaf or hard of hearing, the team uses a giant drum to call plays the snap count; the players can feel the vibrations and avoid jumping offsides.
"To win a state championship would be huge," head coach John Moore told the Austin American-Statesman before the game. "To win during a season like this, where every single football program in the country has been affected by COVID-19, would be outstanding. Knowing our boys put in the extra work on the field and off the field to stay safe really makes my staff and I proud."
The Texas School For the Deaf beat Veritas 63-32, a victory that was especially sweet after losing to their formerly-undefeated rival earlier in the season. It's the Austin-based school's first state championship in its 164-year history.
"This is an honour to be a part of this team," one player told Today after the game. "There are other schools out there that have deaf kids. They can do it too."