It’s a perfect end to a perfect season for the members of a deaf football team at Riverside.
The California School For The Deaf football team had a perfect season before winning an impressive 8-man CIF State Championship. They secured a championship victory with a final score of 80-26.
It is the school’s first title in any sport in its 70-year history.
“I wish we had champagne like they do for NFL teams, but we can’t do that,” said CSD offensive lineman Christian Jimenez. “It’s really nice to see the community together.”
With students and staff out to cheer on the newly named champions in all their glory, there was plenty to celebrate.
For Jimenez and his teammates, this season has been one of redemption. The team also went unbeaten last season before a heartbreaking defeat in the Championship. Their opponents last year were the same as this year: Faith Baptist Christian School of Canoga Park.
“It’s weird,” Jimenez said. “How many times do you have this opportunity to lose the state championship and also win against them in the same year? It was like this sweet revenge.
Jory Valencia, wide receiver and quarterback, said the team was angry with last year’s loss and came out this year with a chip on his shoulder.
“I said, ‘OK, watch out for us next year,'” Valencia said. “This time we didn’t have any injuries, we got bigger, stronger, we know what we had to do, especially against the same team.”
Head coach Keith Adams didn’t let last year’s devastating loss determine this year’s fate.
“We were confident we were going to win this year because it was unfinished business for us,” Adams said.
His team was battling adversity on the pitch, while facing its own set of unique challenges.
“Football is a great way to educate the public, that deaf people can play whatever they want,” Adams said. “The only thing they can’t do is hear. Our bodies are the same. They have to work as hard as anyone else.
“They thought we couldn’t be in the league game,” said Athien Hernandez. “We can play the game, we can play football and we can play at a high level.”
The small team is making a big impact across the country, now ranked ninth in the country.
Last year’s team made national headlines and Adams and some of the players were honored during Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. While this season ended in sorrow, the impact across the world has been immeasurable.