The California School for the Deaf played in its first-ever championship game on Saturday, falling 74-22 to cap a season unlike any other in school history.
The Riverside Cubs won their semifinal game last Friday, when they beat the Avalon High School 62-51 to become the first team in the school's nearly 70-year history to play for a title. They faced a Faith Baptist team in the CIF Southern Section Division title that was making its 18th appearance in an 8-man football championship game since 1984.
All of the players and coaches on the Riverside team are deaf, and they compete against hearing teams. The school lost every game for seven straight seasons.
"Doesn’t matter if they win or lose, the heart they played with has been beautiful, that's what inspired all of us, staff, parents, everyone. We are just thrilled," said middle school principal Janelle Green after the semifinal victory.
Saturday was the big title game, with the potential for the Riverside school to go all the way to a championship victory.
"It is a big deal," said David Figueroa, student at the school and offensive lineman and defensive end on the football team. "It's huge for me and the football team."
Their success has drawn notice, and support, from family members and beyond.
"It feels overwhelming," said Cubs head coach Keith Adams. "It's been nonstop, getting messages, you know, congratulations and well-wishes. My email is blowing up. I've had some NFL head coaches -- the Tennessee Titans have sent me congratulations. It's just been amazing."