HEWITT, Texas – In a year where they didn’t think they would even field a football team, Texas School for the Deaf has captured the nation’s hearts and capped off a Cinderella season with their first ever state championship, thumping Austin’s Veritas Academy 63-32 on Friday night.

Also located in Austin, Texas School for the Deaf (TSD) dropped down to six-man football for the 2020 season because their roster was depleted by COVID-19 fears.

The team is made up entirely of athletes who are either deaf or hard of hearing, and the offense uses a drum to call the cadence from the sidelines. An assistant coach will bang the drum once or twice to call out a play or a snap count, and the player will feel the vibrations rather than hear a call. The coaches and players all communicate through sign language on the field and from the sideline.

The team didn’t get the typical media tour – the attention came to them. Players and coaches were interviewed on The Today Show, and deaf fans from all over the country showed their support in the comment section of the game tracker.

Friday’s game at Midway ISD’s Panther Stadium was a rematch. The crosstown rivals met on September 25th, and it was Veritas Academy who took it to the Rangers – waltzing to a 58-25 win.

Then again, Veritas now knows the sequel is never better than the original.

The Rangers flew out of the gates, taking an 8-0 lead in the opening minutes from a Russell Rhode touchdown run. After a quick strike answer by Veritas to tie the game at 8, TSD rattled off two more scoring runs to take a 22-8 lead after one quarter.

The deficit was the same at halftime, with TSD leading 30-16. The Defenders didn’t come as close again. The Rangers ran away in the second half en route to the 31-point victory.