IRONTON, Ohio — The Ironton Tigers are hungry for a chance at redemption.
“These kids they’ve had this game circled for almost one calendar year now,” Ironton head coach Trevon Pendleton said.
After losing last year’s state title game against Maitland, Pendleton is making sure his guys stay focused on the task at hand.
But when observing the Tigers play, you notice there’s something unique about his starting quarterback Tayden Carpenter.
“He was born deaf,” Pendleton said. “Lot of people would view it as a disability — he doesn’t. He views it as an advantage.”
Carpenter has a cochlear implant in his ear that allows him to hear, but communicating during a game is not an easy task — especially when coaches are wearing masks.
“It’s hard,” Carpenter said. “There’s times in the game where coach will say stuff and I can’t hear them and I just ask them to repeat stuff. Everybody is wearing masks and it’s just harder. But it’s also helped me a lot during this year remembering that you just gotta get through it. And it’s gonna happen, you’re gonna have tough times.”
Carpenter said being the vocal leader on the offense has been a challenge, but it’s something that he is growing into.
“People have always said that quarterbacks are the ones that have to be able to talk a lot. From a young age, I haven’t been able to speak very well. So, I’ve always been working at that.”
Star Linebacker Reid Carrico says Carpenter is a gamer — somebody who will compete with anyone.
“A lot of people, if they were deaf or had any other type of disability and tried to play a sport, they would try to use it kinda like a crutch, but he doesn’t do that,” Carrico said. “It’s easy to respect him for that.”
Coach Pendleton said although Carpenter was born deaf, he hasn’t let it define him.
“I think he was born to be in this position,” Pendleton said. “Since day one he’s been a leader. He stares down the face of adversity and never blinks.”
Carpenter’s play is just one of the reasons the team is back in the state final — something they hope they can bring back home to Southern Ohio.
“It would be huge,” Carrico said. “It would be the first one in 31 years. I think our little city deserves it.”
“It would really mean a lot for this team,” Carpenter said. “We all have been working hard this whole season. It’s just not me. We have a really good team. We got a whole great group of seniors that have led this team the whole way. It’s been a great year. I couldn’t do anything without these seniors.”
Ironton battles Kirtland on Saturday, November 21 at 1:15 PM. The game can be viewed or streamed on Spectrum News 1.