TAYLOR, Texas - The Taylor Ducks football team hasn’t won a game in nearly three years, and is picked to finish at the bottom of District 13-4A this season by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine.
"We talk about just having the ability to raise our toughness level, overcoming adversity," said Taylor head coach Brandon Houston.
One player Coach Houston hopes will help his team turn things around this year is homegrown talent and McNeil transfer Jarvis Anderson, who was born Deaf. "It's my understanding that he was at another district. As a way to just better meet his needs at the time. I don't want to speak for the district. But I think now there have been some changes or whatever. That they feel like yeah we can support him in a positive way in his academic environment," he said.
"It was more of a challenge for my dad because he had to drive early in the morning and take me to McNeil. I wanted to move back home. My brother, he's here. He's in the school. My cousin's here," said Anderson.
Anderson’s younger brother, a sophomore receiver for the Ducks, said, "I wanted to play with my brother. It's his first year over here. I just wanted to show him some love. He said he wanted to be with family. So I came out there."
While some may think there would be communication issues between the players and Anderson, Coach Houston says there’s been no problems. "He communicates well with our kids. Everything in our offensive and defensive system has a signal. We do a real good job of explaining what a certain signal means to him."
Anderson added, "I can read the coaches' lips. And I pick up stuff as we go. So it's really not that hard."
While Anderson is enjoying playing with his family and friends, football is not the only sport he excels at. He's also one of the country’s top track and field athletes and has already qualified to compete at the 2021 Deaflympics in Brazil on the U.S. team. "Going to Brazil. Yeah that's cool," he said.
Coach Houston added, "It is awesome when your community can rally behind someone to have success on a world stage like that. That's a pretty awesome thing."
As for what Anderson believes he brings to the Ducks, he said "I think I show the team how to be mentally tough. I'm working hard. And encourage them to work hard, encourage them to hit hard. Play with a lot of emotion. If we play hard, we will win."
Taylor will play their season opener on the road against Robinson on Friday, August 27 and Coach Houston is ready to see his guys take the field.
"There is a little bit of energy," he said. "Not just with young men like Jarvis coming back to our program. But just maybe some newness. And maybe as we're coming out of some of the darker days if you will. We're excited, and we're glad that he's a part of it."