The storied football team of Gallaudet, the nation's first university for the deaf

(CBS News) WASHINGTON, D.C. - Next spring marks the 150-year anniversary of a school called Gallaudet, which became the first university in the country to focus on the deaf.

Today, the school has more than 2,000 students. They also have a dominant and undefeated team on the football field.

Chuck Goldstein
Chuck Goldstein
CBS News

When Coach Chuck Goldstein came to Gallaudet from his high school coaching job, he had a lot to learn.

Every member of the Bison football team is deaf or hard of hearing, so he had to learn to sign, and find other ways to communicate with his players.

"I've not used a whistle in five years," Goldstein said. "Our players can't hear whistles."

Gallaudet, the nation's first university for the deaf, has a long and storied football program. The Bison invented the huddle, thought up by a quarterback in the 1890s as way to keep other players from seeing what they signed.

But the school, famous for its contribution to the game, wasn't particularly good at playing it.

Quarterback Todd Bonheyo
Quarterback Todd Bonheyo
CBS News

Senior quarterback Todd Bonheyo said: "I think the hardest part of this season is actually believing that's real. Based on previous seasons, we've never had this type of luck or this type of winning streak. We always come up as a losing team and now we're the winning team."

This year, Gallaudet is 9-0, and in the running for the school's first men's NCAA Division Three championship.

The team only has 54 players, half the size of most in its division, but between the white lines, it only takes 11.

Adham Talaat, gallaudet
Adham Talaat
CBS News

Senior Adham Talaat is a 6-foot-6-inch, 270-pound defensive end. He might also be the first Gallaudet player in history to make it to the NFL.

"It's been a dream of mine since I can remember, and for it to happen here, at Gallaudet, I couldn't imagine a better place," Talaat said.

Last week, with just two seconds left in the game and its undefeated season at stake, Gallaudet blocked a potential game winning field goal, and returned the ball 79 yards for the win.

Running back Nick Elstad says the team hits the field with something to prove.

They're out to show "that we can play and that we can compete and in the end, we always want to have a 'W' on our record," Elstad said.

And just because they can't hear the cheers, doesn't mean they can't feel the win.