R.J. Garza looks to reach lofty goals
As a junior last season, R.J. Garza passed for over 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns while leading Roma High School in South Texas to its first winning record in school history.
When his senior football season opens Friday night against La Joya, Garza has even more impressive goals.
“I set them pretty high,” he said. “We’re trying to make it to the playoffs for the first time in school history, and that would really be an important accomplishment. I feel like we can make it. This season, we’re a lot more hungry and we’re not going to let anything get in our way.”
With Garza under center, the Gladiators figure to have a legitimate shot to finally make it to the playoffs. “I can’t wait for the season to start,” he said. “The team goal is winning games and making the playoffs. My goal is to get 2,500 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing.”
In a three-team scrimmage to prep for the season, Garza showed he is likely to hit his goals by completing 9 of 14 passes for 217 yards and 4 touchdowns. “I was very happy with the way the scrimmage went,” the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder said. “It makes you realize that all the hard work you put in is paying off. Playing so well gives me a lot of confidence heading into the season.”
Garza said this year’s team is “young and fast.” Roma could have some growing pains on the defensive side of the ball, but seven seniors are back on offense.
The Gladiators will have to overcome the graduation loss of running back Orly Solis, who earned Texas Class 4A all-state honors in 2013 after rushing for 2,453 yards and 29 TDs.
“He was a great running back,” Garza said. “We’re going to miss him, but we’ve got a lot of talent coming back on offense. And if I have to do more to help, I will. I love to throw the ball, but I like to run it, too.”
Garza has been preparing for his final high school football season since the day after his junior season ended.
“I went to a couple NFA camps, just to fix up my mechanics a little bit,” Garza said. “And I’ve been working out with the team and going hard and just making sure we can get to where we want to go.”
A member of the Blackshirt Academy the past three years, Garza can’t give JC Boice and the rest of the NFA coaching staff enough credit for helping him develop into an elite quarterback.
“Coach Boice and NFA, they’ve brought me a long way since my freshman season,” Garza said. “I guess I never wanted to be beat by people so they helped me work hard so I could beat them.”
This is going to be Garza’s last season at the high school level, but he is determined to keep playing football in college.
Garza started hearing from schools as a junior, but he doesn’t have a clue if he’s being recruited now.
“My coaches are taking care of that, and they don’t want to tell me yet,” Garza said. “They don’t want any distractions. But definitely, I want to play at the next level. I just want to play in college. If I can make it to the highest level possible, that would be awesome. But whatever happens, wherever I get my chance to grow, that’s where I’ll grow.”