The lights on the football field went out for the last time this season. The cameras, the shutters chirping throughout the game nights like an army of crickets, are gone. The journalists have returned home. Pads and helmets are stored in storage.
No stories. The California School for the Deaf in Riverside had its biggest season in program history, garnering national attention in a storybook season, undefeated in 12 games. CSDR lost in the South Section 8-man Division 2 Championship match 74-22 to Canoga Park Faith Baptist on November 27. Tear. The story lacked words, a short chapter.
The flood of articles and television crews has dried up. It is now basketball season at CSDR.
Keith Adams is no longer on the sidelines, eyes popping out of his sockets as his hands convey deft instructions to his players via American Sign Language. The soccer coach is now seated in the bleachers of the school gymnasium, watching his players trade green grass and pigskin for hardwood and leather. Passive.
“It was weird,” Adams said watching the team’s opener on Tuesday night. “See them all on the pitch, and now I’m sitting back. Do nothing. “
It’s a small school, so all but two of the football players are also on the basketball team, Adams said. Practice began two days after Saturday’s loss in the title match. The world continues to turn.
There was a line of cars with members of the media every day for the last two weeks of the season, Adams said.
CNN. ESPN. NBC. CBS. They all started to mix. Adams knew this was good communication for the school, but said his players were a bit fed up with the redundant interviews.
With the exhibition came recognition. Adams’ son Trevin, the gritty quarterback for the team that has 75 touchdowns – not a typo – during the season, said strangers would request photos with him.
“We would go out to eat, and people would recognize us, and they would be like, ‘Oh, let me pay for your meal,’” Trevin said. “It’s kind of weird to have random people acting like they know you.”
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Going into the last week of the season, the Cubs were 12-0. CSDR last had a winning record in 2011 and never reached a championship game. It was a dream story, and the team were happy to embrace, given their collective goal of trying to dispel the often biased or unfavorable perception of the hearing deaf community.
But that attention led to the distraction, Adams thinks. He told his players to ignore him, but they really couldn’t.
“I think they felt more pressure in their championship game,” Adams said.
Trevin doesn’t really agree with his father on this. What was most frustrating this Saturday were the injuries.
In the third quarter against Faith Baptist, Trevin pulled the ball down for a run and landed a hard blow to the head. Off the field, he was assessed for a concussion and ruled out for the remainder of the game.
The Cubs were punched in the mouth to start the game. Faith Baptist took a 28-0 lead as CSDR made a ton of mistakes, Adams said. But he was optimistic the team could return, and told them so. In the second quarter, they had reduced the Contenders’ lead to 28-22.
But as the game progressed, players started dropping like flies. Jory Valencia, one of the team’s best receivers, has been eliminated. Just like quarterback Kaden Adams, also the coach’s son. Any spark of return was quickly smothered.
Over time, the hands fell on the forehead or runny eyes and players had to pick up the pieces of broken hearts.
“It was really hard to just sit there and just watch,” Trevin said of his injury. “Especially when you’re outside knowing what you could do. It was hard, it was a hell of a disappointment.
After the game, the elementary, secondary and secondary students of the CSDR came to congratulate the players on their season.
Throughout the year, as the victories accumulated, they pursued the goal of a championship. Have a concrete title that would last forever – make the deaf community proud.
“We were so close,” said coach Adams.
The basketball team lost their first game 54-44 to Loma Linda Academy and started season 1-3. Watching Loma Linda’s game from the stands, Adams said, his players did not appear to be healed after the quick turnaround.
“I felt bad for the players,” Adams said. “I wish that [they] wouldn’t have had a game this week… the energy just wasn’t there.
The fact that CSDR got so deep into the football playoffs – where no Cubs had gone before – created the short turnaround.
Trevin said most deaf schools across the country have contacted the CSDR to offer support. The season may have ended in a disappointment, but all of the work has served as inspiration. The Cubs lost a battle, but they won a war.
“Hearing families with deaf family members got to see our example, and that was probably the coolest thing, being able to really be a representative of the deaf community,” Trevin said. “I really feel like we’ve changed the perspective of performing, like, ‘Deaf can do it. “
The quarterback said he was actually thankful that the basketball season started so soon after the loss, so there wasn’t much time to simmer without an outlet. Even though they may be in mourning, basketball coach Matt Cerar said he didn’t feel the loss above the team’s lead.
Instead, they use it as fuel.
“At the moment, they are not happy,” Cerar said. “The chip on their shoulder after the championship – OK, so bring that with you.”