KERRVILLE, Texas — In the town of Kerrville, there is something you learn at a very young age: TFND.

"It's Tivy Fight Never Dies. We bleed it," senior linebacker Caden Villarreal said.

Fellow senior Aaron Fugazzi added, "It's just the way of life."

The four initials are prominently displayed atop Antler Stadium, looking down at a team who takes these words to heart.

"We've been behind in so many games, and been down and came back from behind and had a lot of adversity that people don't really know anything about," Tivy head coach David Jones said. Jones' voice is really raspy when he talks these days. He is still recovering.

"(My voice has) been gone for eight weeks, it's just now coming back."

Jones had to miss a game earlier this year because of Bell's Palsy, a condition where the muscles on one side of his face become paralyzed.

"That got us really fired up. We can't lose because he's not there, so we had to do the best for him," Fugazzi said.

During this time, the wide receiver needed support as well.

"Losing my dad was pretty tough, you know...I don't know the exact name of the cancer. It's one of the rarest ones there are, but it started in his stomach and went to his spine and got into his brain fluid. Took him after 3 months," Fugazzi said.

Aaron Fuggazi.jpg
Aaron Fugazzi with his father growing up.

Villarreal said, "Nobody should have to bury a father, especially at a young age like this."

Aaron was once worried he'd have to bury his friend, Caden.

"When I found out, I cried so bad. I didn't think he was going to make it," Fugazzi said.

Villarreal explained, "Going into my 8th grade year, I got an infection called Gangrene. It's about a 1-in-a-50 million chance somebody gets it. Said I had a 40 percent chance to live."

Caden Villarreal.jpg
Caden Villarreal had a total of ten surgeries during his time in the hospital four years ago. Doctors said he had a 40 percent chance of surviving.

Two weeks ago, Caden made the season-saving tackle in triple overtime to send his team into the next round of the playoffs.

"He's got a knack for the big play when we need it," defensive coordinator Jeremy Hickman said.

Hickman has a great relationship with Caden, growing up with his mother and uncle.

"We lean on him a lot and he leans on us a lot," Villarreal said.

Hickman said, "Just myself, I've been to four funerals in the past six weeks."

Aaron's father, two grandparents and a cousin.

Jeremy Hickman.jpg
Defensive coordinator Jeremy Hickman talking to his team before a playoff game against Southside.

"Kind of goes along with the TFND mantra. We're not ever going to quit," Hickman said.

This football team understands adversity on and off the field, but it's something they've been prepared for their entire life.

"It's impressive to see how they react," Jones said. "It's impressive to see how they bond together."

Villarreal said, "We know struggle and we get each other and we're always there for each other when somebody needs it."

Fugazzi said, "It's just TFND. We gotta fight for each other."