CSDR’s Season-Ending Loss Does Not Overshadow All It Won In 2021

By Jerry Soifer
Featured Contributor / soifer44@gmail.com

RIVERSIDE – The California School for the Deaf-Riverside football team was the feel-good story of not just the 2021 CIF-Southern Section playoff season but the national high school season.

The innocent nature of the Cubs’ season and the deaf players seemed even more compelling in the context of the controversy swirling around the Santa Ana Mater Dei football program.

CSDR’s undefeated run received widespread coverage from the New York Times and USA Today, among others. The Tennessee Titans of the NFL sent congratulations, according to a media report.

ESPN sent a camera crew of Brian Liu, Susan Ansmac and Juan Beltran on Saturday Nov. 27 to John W. North High in Riverside to join camera crews from just about every television station from Los Angeles and Riverside to cover the Cubs as they sought to complete an undefeated season in eight-man football against powerhouse Conoga Park Faith Baptist in the CIF-SS 8-Man Division 2 title game.

Pep Fernandez, Mr. Inland Empire sports media, was all over the sidelines with pre-game interviews, and camera tripods were set up outside the the playing field to capture even more action, but they also represented potential hazards for players potentially running out of bounds, according to Heston Quan, a long-time photographer for CIF-SS and MaxPreps.

ESPN invaded the CSDR locker room before the game. TV did not ignore Faith Baptist, dutifully recording their bench activities. The game was moved to a 5 p.m. start because the 8-Man game features so much offense that it takes longer to play than most 11-man football games. There are so many clock stoppages for first downs, players running out of bounds and incomplete passes that it took 90 minutes to play the first half.

Unlike the CIF-SS 11-Man Division 1 title game that featured loads of NCAA prospects on both Mater Dei and Anaheim Servite, there may have been one player good enough to play at the next level on the field on Saturday night – Faith Baptist sophomore tight end Tracy Bryden.

Talent notwithstanding, the game was such a big attraction that it was moved from the CSDR campus to Riverside Unified School District Stadium, and several thousand supporters nearly filled it to capacity.

The Cubs had never been to a CIF-SS title game nor have they had a winning season since 2011, but the team averaged more than 60 points a game in 2021 – including a 62-51 win at Avalon on Catalina Island in the semifinals on Nov. 19.

The CalPreps computer rankings sorted the CIF-SS into into 14 11-Man divisions and two 8-Man divisions, but Faith Baptist (10-2 overall) looked like it could have been a top team in 8-Man Division 1 as it roared to a 74-22 win over CSDR.

CSDR quarterback Trevin Adams brought his team back from a 28-0 deficit in the first half and made it 28-22 at intermission but he was under pressure all night and the Cubs did not score a point in the second half.

Adams completed 20 of 30 passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 70 yards on 16 carries. Felix Gonzales had a 60-yard run for a touchdown and caught seven passes fo 63 yards.

CSDR QB Trevin Adams (right) is pursued by Faith Baptist’s Parker Mills during the CIF-SS 8-Man Division 2 title game on Saturday, Nov. 27.

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