Hearty congratulations go to the FSDB Dragons Football team, honored as 8-Man Football National Champions by the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association (NDIAA). In addition to the team award, Head Coach Eric LeFors was named the 8-Man Football Coach of the Year by the NDIAA.
Last month, the FSDB Dragons were also named DeafDigest 8-Man Football National Champions.
FSDB has played 11-man Football since its inception in 1913. After 105 seasons, the school made the switch to eight-man this year based on the number of available and students. The transition has allowed FSDB to play against other schools that are equal in student population size, including deaf schools that also changed to 8-man football.
"This was a magical year on the field," said LeFors. "Everything just came together for us during the season. We all had no idea what to expect as it was our first-ever foray into the 8-man football world."
The Dragons went undefeated during the regular season (7-0), which included victories over the Mississippi School for the Deaf (30-0), Tennessee School for the Deaf (58-12), Louisiana School for the Deaf (42-6), and Alabama School for the Deaf (44-18).
The Dragons also joined the VICIS 8-Man Premier League, which is part of the Sunshine State Athletic Conference (SSAC). FSDB won the East Division and went into the State Tournament as the number one seed, hosting the playoff game on the FSDB campus. The Dragons fell to Harvest Community School (Jacksonville, FL) but gained valuable experience that will prove beneficial for the years to come.
"I’d like to thank SSAC for accepting FSDB into their league and allowing us to schedule games against other deaf schools, which are outside the conference," explained FSDB Athletic Director Donna Johnson
"We would have liked to go further in the playoffs, but this was a season for the ages that the players will never forget," LeFors exclaimed.
The future looks bright for the football program. The entire starting lineup will return next year, including quarterback Matthe Guillou, and running backs Luis Merced and Walter Douglas. The Dragons ground game amassed 2,536 yards for the year, averaging close to 350 yards per game. The trio also accounted for 32 of the 37 touchdowns scored during the season.
When asked about being named Coach of the Year, LeFors said, "To be chosen by my peers is a great honor. To me, this award is a coaching staff award. There's no way I could have done this myself. It's a recognition of how much work we all put into the program."
Joining LeFors on the sideline were Assistant Coaches Rex Moers (defensive coordinator), Johnny Samuels (offensive and defensive line), and JC Pinedo (tight ends and defensive backs).
"It was such a blessing to see the excitement of our student-athletes when they realized they could be competitive in football again," said Johnson. "Thanks to our amazing coaching staff, our team was thrilled to be back in top form."
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdbk12.org