AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas School for the Deaf is celebrating a historic win by their football team. The team took home their first state title Friday night, after winning 63-32 against Veritas Academy of Austin.
"I’d have to say, it’s the best feeling ever. Nothing can compare to that, nothing equals that feeling," said Kylar Sycoli, football player for the Texas School for the Deaf Rangers.
The Texas School for the Deaf can officially add the title "State Champions" to their name after Friday night's big win against undefeated Veritas Academy.
The game was proof to themselves and every other team in TAPPS Division I Six-Man football that they can bring home the trophy.
"We have the skill, we can do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re deaf, it doesn’t matter if you have some other challenge, you can do it, football is football," said football player Jordan Leeper.
It wasn't an easy start to the season for the Rangers. In fact, they had to rethink everything about the game this year, including their lineup.
"We had the realization that a lot of our players wouldn’t be back in the Fall. So, on day one, we saw how much our roster dwindled and it was really difficult to make that decision to go from Eleven-Man to Six-Man," said Coach John Moore Jr., who has been with the team since the now-seniors were in fifth grade.
"All of us have grown up together, played together, it’s always been Eleven-Man then we had to make the adjustment to Six-Man with COVID," said team captain Zarek Nathanson.
Instead of relying on a quarterback to verbally call out plays, the deaf and hard of hearing teammates use a drum to help them sense vibrations and know when a play starts. Besides that, Coach Moore and his players said the sport is the same.
"Football is football. What can I say? You have to make quick decisions and you can’t accept anything less than their best," said Moore.
As for whether they'll stay a Six-Man team in 2021, it's likely. "We have to defend our honor next year, right?" Coach Moore said.
But the biggest victory for the Rangers in 2020 wasn't only on the field. "I expect that our success here will be an inspiration to other deaf schools across the nation," said Moore.
"It means that I can do it. So many people want to tell us we can’t, but we can. It means as a deaf person, I can do it," said football player Zachary Hurt.