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Junior plays defense for Hesperia High despite deafness
Roaring crowds cheering, players running and tackling as the excitement at Scorpion Stadium grows: Everyone on the gridiron can hear it except for No. 58, Matthew Aguila.
Aguila is deaf on the otherwise all-hearing varsity football team at Hesperia High School.
“I feel confident about playing football,” said Aguila, who’s just starting his junior year. “I like to make new friends and it’s a great way to do that.”
Aguila is helped at school and on the field by translator Ricky Esquibel.
“It has been neat to see him progress and keep his outgoing attitude, while he found his own ways to communicate with coaches and teammates,” Esquibel said.
Although Aguila can’t hear useful information on the field, he’s also not distracted by unnecessary information.
“He plays defensive line,” head coach Jeremy Topete said. “It is based off of the ball moving, so he knows when the play starts.”
“I just watch the ball; when the ball moves I go,” Aguila said. “I can see when it moves, then I move also, and tackle who needs to be tackled (and don’t have to) worry about what I hear. I use my sight the most. I move when the ball moves.”
Aguila said he puts his best foot forward and tries to be the best he can be and a team player, no matter what comes his way.
“I really try hard, (give) my all,” he said. “I don’t want to be lazy. I really want to make a good effort.”
Topete expects no less of Aguila than he does of his hearing players, he said.
“I want the same success for him as all the other players,” Topete said. “He is continually improving and is someone who enjoys the game, someone who is dedicated to the game and is a hard worker. He has good days and bad, just like all the other players. They are all out there playing football and representing Hesperia High. I am proud of everyone.”
Though the Scorpions lost in their season opener Friday night against Silverado High School, they nearly had a late upset and walked away with a 20-14 loss.
“Our kids are winners tonight,” Topete said following the game. “I don’t care what the score says.”
— Staff writer Matthew Peters contributed to this report.