It isn’t very often that one gets to witness something truly magical. This year I was lucky enough to have a front row seat as the MSD Eagles Football Team soared to new heights, and gave all of us a season to remember.
This magical ride started in early September on a hot football field in Oklahoma. Faced with temperatures on the field that reached as high as 108 degrees, and playing a team that had beat them handily over the past few years, these young men from MSD showed a determination and will to never give up that would define the rest of the season. Working together as a team, they battled their way to a tie at the end of regulation. Unfortunately things didn’t end as they hoped, as Oklahoma was able to score the go ahead touchdown in overtime to win 66-58.
The next game saw MSD travel to Little Rock to play a good Arkansas team. While the boys could have been down after losing a close game to Oklahoma, they did not falter. They quickly took control of the contest, and pulled away for a 66-16 victory. The win moved the Eagles to 1-1 on the season, and gave them momentum as they looked ahead to their Homecoming game against archrival Kansas.
From the opening kickoff it was clear that Kansas had come to play. While Missouri jumped out to an early lead, Kansas kept battling back. Lead by the triple threat of Monroe, Allen, and Jones in the backfield, and a solid defense, the Eagles were able to finally pull away from Kansas for a hard fought victory. The final score was 58-22. With a record of 2-1, MSD was now ready to do battle with the mighty Trojans of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf.
Minnesota came to McClure field in October with an undefeated record. Among their victories was a 30-8 win over Wisconsin School for the Deaf, the 2011 National Deaf Champions. The Trojans were ready to continue their march toward what they hoped would be their own national championship.Standing in their way was a very determined MSD team.
With enough boys to field three complete teams, several players over 200 pounds, and one young man that topped the scales at 300 pounds, the task of defeating Minnesota looked daunting for the Eagles. However, from the beginning it was apparent that MSD was not intimidated by the Trojans. They quickly scored twice against the giant Minnesota defense, and were near the goal line for another score when a turnover ended the drive. Frustrated with the Eagle's quick start, one Minnesota player got ejected from the game, and their coaches screamed at the officials from the sidelines. Toe-to-toe the Eagles played tough and kept the score close through much of the first half. However, with only eleven players it was difficult to continue matching the intensity against a Trojans team that rotated in fresh bodies. In the end, Minnesota pulled away for an 80-28 victory. Even in defeat, the Eagles showed a true sportsmanship that defines a winner. They never gave up, they held their heads high, and did not show their frustration, even when they endured some questionable late hits and were forced to watch Minnesota celebrate their victory with Gatorade showers.
Although battered and bruised from their battle with Minnesota, the Eagles had very little time to heal as Iowa came to town only five short days later. Once again, the boys showed the determination to rise from defeat. Through the air and on the ground the MSD offense just clicked from the start. On defense the Eagles made some key stops, and forced several turnovers that quickly lead to scores. At the end of the contest, MSD had won by a score of 96-36. This moved their record to 3-2 on the year with one game left against the Wisconsin Firebirds.
Wisconsin was having a down year. After seven games their record was an uncharacteristic 2-5. However this final game of the season for both clubs was Wisconsin’s Homecoming, and they were fired up. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Wisconsin jumped out to a quick lead behind a strong ground attack. In the end, MSD fell 60-28. The Eagles ended their season with a 3-3 record, and a fourth place finish in the Great Plains Schools for the Deaf Conference.
As President of the Missouri School for the Deaf Parents’ Organization, a football fan, and most of all a proud father of an MSD football player, I want to thank each one of the boys on the MSD football team and their coaches for the magical ride they gave us this season. You showed us how to never give up, how to leave everything on the field of battle, how to hold our heads high, and what it truly means to be an MSD Eagle. Soar on Eagles.