By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
The San Jon Coyotes, Quay County’s only six-man football team, will play in their first state championship game today.
The Coyotes (5-2) will play at 1 p.m. today against the New Mexico School for the Deaf at Albuquerque’s Menaul High School.
The Coyotes will play state championship match up since the inception of their football program four years ago.
They earned the state match-up after a 44-39 victory Oct. 13 against New Mexico School for the Deaf ‘s Roadrunners and clinched the district championship title.
“This is the first state game for our football team. The entire community is excited and we are expecting a great game,” said Waymond Ragland, head football coach and athletic director for San Jon High School.
The state match-up will be a re-match between the Coyotes and Roadrunners.
Coach Ragland said, “We are expecting a good football game. The last game was so close and we know we are going to have to play hard in order to come away with the title.”
Roadrunners coach Robert Huizar, who is deaf and answered questions via e-mail, said, “It’s going to be a rematch of the first game we had with San Jon. Our boys are looking to win that game back. I know it isn’t going to be an easy game and I know San Jon wants to win state just as bad as us.”
Huizar also said, “Basically, it falls down to who plays better, comes out strong and who has the best defense It’s our first state final as well. We are also the first deaf team nationally to make the state finals since Colorado School for the Deaf/Blind in 1977. We’re not only going to try and win the state for NMSD but for deaf people nationally.”
Barry Strassler, editor of Deaf Digest, confirmed Huizar’s statement regarding championship appearances for deaf teams. The Deaf Digest carries stories of various deaf athletes participating in mainstream and local sports from around the country.
Huizar said there is not much difference between playing football without hearing.
“There is no training required,” Huizar said. “when we play we react on movement and visually it comes naturally to us and when the other teams stops we stop. If they continue we continue, so really we play just like them.”