AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas School for the Deaf football team could make history if it knocks off a crosstown rival for a state championship Friday night.
If the school takes down Austin’s Veritas Academy in the TAPPS Division 1 6-Man football championship game at 6 p.m. in Hewitt, it’ll be the first state title in school history.
In order to do that, the Rangers will not only rely on athleticism and execution, but also a drum they use to call the cadence.
It’s an interesting way for the players to know the snap count, and since they’re deaf, they can’t hear the drum beats, but they can feel them.
“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,” said the school’s superintendent Claire Bugen. “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.”
The team was featured on NBC’s The TODAY Show on Friday ahead of their historic matchup, and Bugen said the school almost didn’t play football at all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rather than stay at their usual division and play 11-man football, since the roster was so depleted, the school decided to drop to the 6-man ranks in TAPPS, the state’s private school athletic association. While the difference between 6-man and 11-man football is vast, Rangers head coach John Moore told NBC they were able to adapt quickly to the smaller field and wide-open style of play.
“Everything was new, the rules were new, the fields is new. It’s no longer 100 yards, we’re changing down to 80 yards so that changes our whole game,” he said.
The schools played in the first game of the season Sept. 25 with Veritas claiming a 58-25 win over the Rangers. Since then, the Rangers have gone 6-2 with two playoff wins over Logos Prep Academy 60-30 and San Marcos Academy 39-28 to reach the state title game.