During his first year coaching the Eagles, Warren Keller led the 19 high school football players straight to a league title. It would be an impressive feat for any team, but it becomes even more remarkable when you consider this: All of them are deaf.
According to the Fremont Argus, 26-year-old Warren Keller, who is also deaf, earned the California School for the Deaf a 10-2 record this season -- the school's best in history. Along the way, the Eagles also won the North Central II/Bay League title, nearly drawing them a spot in the sectional title game, the Mercury News reported.
The winning streak came despite the fact that the team had so few players that some regularly played both offense and defense. Furthermore, not one of them weighed 200 pounds, which put them at a size disadvantage.
In an interview with KNTV, Coach Keller recalled the day the Eagles played Richmond High -- one of their biggest opponents.
"People weren't sure if we could handle the big boys," Keller told the station. "Half their team was probably over 200 pounds; on our team, nobody's over 200 pounds."
Their offensive style mimics the University of Oregon, but with large, highly-visible play boards and American sign language during drives, according to a Yahoo! sports blog. The strategy scored the Eagles 329 points in 11 games.
Keller promotes a "Hard Work Philosophy," which according to the Argus, asks that players move fast during practice, work hard in all aspects of life and respect everyone, especially each other.
With that can-do attitude, the future burns bright. Keller says the past season's momentum will likely continue to build in 2013.
Despite the few nuances that come with playing football while deaf -- like limited communication with refs who can sometimes misinterpret players' quiet demeanor -- they insist they're a regular team.
"We don't do anything different than any other program," Keller told the Argus. "We haven't faced one opponent where we're at a disadvantage."
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