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FIRED UP: Florida School for the Deaf and Blind playing winning flag football

The best is yet to come for the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind’s flag football team.

The Dragons trounced Menendez (3-2) 26-6 Monday night to move to 5-1, the best start in program history. Florida School for the Deaf and Blind’s best season before this year was 4-5.

Emma Hancock throwing a pass.
Star quarterback Emma Hancock has played flag football for six years. Photo by Myer Lee.

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind has everything it needs to compete for a district championship: a veteran quarterback, a solid rushing attack, respectable receivers and a savvy, young, first-year coach in Chris Lennon.

Lennon immediately saw the talent once he started working with his new team this year. He just needed to introduce some strategy.

“The concept of the game and how to run the routes and make those sharp cuts — those weren’t there yet,” Lennon said.

Lennon has also implemented principles of sportsmanship, having a good attitude and playing hard. The team embodies relentlessness, from the veterans to the rookies. FSDB has a team of athletes this year, and it’s made a big difference.

“We have young students who play other sports,” senior rusher Oceana Brown said. “That’s really influenced our game a lot, because they’ve developed these skills in other sports that we can integrate into our game. There’s a lot of talent because they play other sports.”

Most of the team is from the elite girls basketball program, including Kayla Debrow, standout quarterback Emma Hancock and freshman Mariska Dize.

Mariska running with the ball.
Freshman Mariska Dize has been a dominant rusher, defender and receiver. Photo by Myer Lee.

Dize, who will likely be the x-factor for the Dragons in the postseason, excels all over the field. She rushes, receives and defends at a high level. The Falcons had no answer for Dize Monday night.

“Being a team player and playing hard — that’s what makes me tough,” Dize said.

Dize along with Hancock, Brown and Debrow make the Dragons tough to cover. Since Florida School for the Deaf and Blind’s lone loss to Ridgeview, it’s outscored its last three opponents 67-18.

The loss forced the team to refocus on the importance of having a good attitude, Lennon said.

The Dragons have three games left. Their last game of the regular season will be against Clay, the team that knocked them out of playoff contention last year. Florida School for the Deaf and Blind will need to have the right mindset and attitude to exact revenge on the Blue Devils.

Perhaps the most eager is Brown, who can still taste the defeat from last season. She is ready to do whatever it takes to make sure Florida School for the Deaf and Blind gets to the playoffs and continues changing the negative narratives about Deaf and blind athletes.

"Sometimes, the hearing think we’re easier than we are," Brown said. "They sleep on us. They think that we’re not equal. We have to show them that we are."


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