‘We Proved That We Can Excel': California School for the Deaf Football Team Reaches First-Ever Championship

In the team’s unprecedented undefeated season, they've played against all hearing schools

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The California School for the Deaf, Riverside’s varsity football team made history last week when they played in the semifinals for the first time in the school’s 68 years — and then they won.

Now the Cubs are heading to the first-ever championship game for any sport in the school's history.

After an undefeated season and Friday’s 62-51 semifinal victory over Avalon High School, the Cubs now head into next weekend’s division championship as the favorite to win. 

“At this point, I think I’m speechless. I'm on cloud nine. I was like, seriously? This has happened? It’s amazing,” head coach Keith Adams said. “They did a fantastic job. I couldn't even be more proud. I can’t even sign at this point — I’m out of words.”

All of the players and coach are deaf, and the teams they compete against are all hearing. 

“We wanted to show we can do it — and if people think we can’t, it doesn't matter,” said Cubs player Phillip Castaneda. “We proved that we can excel to the championships.” 

The team’s unprecedented season came after a seven-year losing streak. 

“For those seven years, everyone, morale was kind of down and kind of low,” quarterback Trevin Adams told Weekend TODAY. But, he said, being isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

“It’s been really really tough, but once we all got back together as a full team, it felt really special,” he said. “We were able to really enjoy one another’s company, and really embrace one another even more than we have before.”

“My heart is so bursting with pride. Many of these students were mine when I was an elementary school principal. To see them thriving like this is really exciting. I’m proud,” said middle school principal Janelle Green. “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.”

The Cubs (12-0) will play for the CIF Southern Section Division 2 8-man league title at 5 p.m. Saturday against Faith Baptist High School. 

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