One more run to the title game, one more championship for the trophy case.
Southern California high school football is no stranger to national greatness, with teams like Mater Dei and St. John Bosco helping carry on the tradition recognized across the country.
Now, another program is building on that legacy, and the accomplishments from the gridiron—and what they’re providing off it— might just be the most impressive of all.
The California School for the Deaf-Riverside football team appeared on the national stage in 2021 and 2022 after going an impressive 24-1 in those two seasons. Under head coach Keith Adams, the Cubs capped off the inspiring efforts with the 8-person CIF-SS Division 1 title over Faith Baptist High School.
It was the school’s first such title in any sport and the journey was captured by New York Times writer Thomas Fuller in a book due out next summer: “The Boys of Riverside: A Deaf Football Team and a Quest for Glory”
If the story stopped there, it would have warranted recognition and a retelling for years to come. When sports transcend boundaries and take on deeper meanings that are as miraculous as they are heartwarming.
But the Cubs weren’t finished. More chapters awaited.
Although the 2023 season had obstacles that all high school teams will face—a reality that hits when you lose 10 seniors—CSDR overcame a 1-3 start to rattle off eight straight wins.
“Finding suitable replacements and reshuffling positions for our new starters proved a considerable challenge early on,” coach Keith Adams wrote in an email via The Press-Enterprise. “As coaches, adapting to these changes and identifying the right players for the right positions took some time. However, after a series of games, we managed to figure things out, and the players grew comfortable in their new roles.”
Fast forward to late November, the team was back in the title hunt, looking to make it two consecutive CIF-SS 8-person nods. And waiting for them again was Faith Baptist, who was looking to flip the script and take home the title like the 2021 team accomplished.
After the opening action at Martin Luther King High School (Riverside), it looked as though the Cubs might fall short. It was 14-0 in favor of Faith Baptist, a one-sided game filled with turnovers.
But when the clock ticked down to zero in the fourth quarter—after what the school called “miraculous plays into the fourth quarter”—the Cubs were up 54-42.
Title No. 2: Sealed.
The Cubs are the 2023 Division 2 CIF-SS 8-person champs.
“Last year, we had a lot of seniors that graduated,” junior quarterback Kaden Adams said in sign language via KCAL9. “This is a brand new team, but champions with both of those teams is pretty amazing.”
Amazing is only one of about 100,000 words that describe the achievement. Coach Adams needed only around 30 to sum it up perfectly:
“Anyone with big dreams, it all starts with small steps,” head coach Keith Adams. “You can’t dream something huge without the work. You got to go through the journey and get to the endpoint.”
The California School for the Deaf Riverside football team has secured their 2nd consecutive State Championship title https://t.co/Ky3z9jzL6g
— Good Morning America (@GMA) November 28, 2023