HEWITT, Texas – The Texas School for the Deaf football team made history Friday night, defeating Veritas Academy 63-32 to capture the program’s first state championship.
The Rangers (7-3) won the TAPPS Division 1 6-Man football championship, KXAN reported. The victory avenged a 58-25 loss to their crosstown rivals in the season opener for both schools on Sept. 25, the television station reported.
TAPPS is the state’s private school athletic association.
The Defenders (9-1) won state titles in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Coming into Friday night’s game, they were averaging 62 points per game, and no team had finished a game within 14 points of Veritas.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Texas School for the Deaf decided to change divisions from traditional 11-player football squads to six. The field was also shortened.
Rangers head coach John Moore told NBC’s “Today” show that his players were able to adapt quickly to the smaller field and wide-open style of play.
“Everything was new, the rules were new, the fields are new,” Moore said. “It’s no longer 100 yards, we’re changing down to 80 yards so that changes our whole game.”
Because the players are unable to hear, they use a drum to tap out the cadence for snapping the ball. The players can feel the vibrations, KXAN reported.
“It’s become kind of a legend at TSD and in the deaf community and I don’t know if the neighbors would agree but it is really characteristic of our deaf football team,” the school’s superintendent, Claire Bugen, told the television station. “It’s a beautiful way to feel the vibrations. A lot of people all can feel those vibrations and that’s what the drum does, it calls the play through vibration.”