Cibola football player with Down Syndrome scores touchdown

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.– Sometimes winning or losing in sports doesn’t matter as much when your passion outweighs everything else. 

KOB 4 spoke with a local athlete who brings more to his team than just his talent on the field. 

“Hey, I’m Derek, and I’ve been playing football when I was a freshman. And now I’m a 10th grader.”

Cibola football player Derek Barreras is a JV running back, and he’s already off to a great season. 

“This year I played in football. I got my first touch down in this season with coach Carroll,” said Barreras. 

He’s not your stereotypical player, he has down syndrome, but that’s never stopped this sophomore from racking up yards. 

Barreras scared a touchdown against Cleveland last month. It was an 80 yard rush into the end zone, and he left the defense in the dust and ran straight for a touchdown. 

Cibola Coach James Carroll says Barreras is the heart of the team. 

“He is a very passionate player. The kids gravitate to him and they really love him. He gets to break the huddle in the mornings after practice at times, and they really enjoy when he breaks the huddle,” said Carroll. 

Carroll says when Barreras wanted to start playing football last year they didn’t skip a beat. 

“He does really well. You know, he takes care of himself that players really gravitate towards him. Great group of players I hear they really open to having Derek on the team,” Carroll said.  

Barreras says this year has been all about studying up on the game. 

“I have been learning about football, helping the coaches, go refereeing and field practices team,” said Barreras. 

Barreras has even been team captain at a few games. 

Carroll says opposing teams love getting to see Barreras score too.