Mission accomplished: R.J. Garza helps team make history


It’s one thing to set a goal, and quite another to go out and accomplish it.
R.J. Garza set an extremely high goal this season, and he never stopped working to reach it.
The senior quarterback at Roma High School in Texas wanted to lead the Gladiators to the first playoff appearance in school history, and he made it happen. “It feels so amazing,” Garza said. “When we were going into the playoffs, it felt unreal.”
A 28-0 win over Valley View on Nov. 8 sealed the trip, but Garza and the Gladiators weren’t completely satisfied.

‘Make something happen’

In the playoff opener against Mercedes High School, which came in with a 9-1 record, Roma found itself trailing 21-7 at halftime.
“My attitude, even before the game started, I told myself, ‘Just give it everything you’ve got because you don’t know if this is your last game or not,’” Garza said. “I went out there and gave it all I’ve got. Right before halftime, we had just scored and they scored right after we did. We were kind of down and some people were giving up, but right before we went out for the second half I told the guys, ‘We don’t know if this is our last game together. We have 24 minutes guaranteed to make something happen.’ I didn’t want to go down and say we made the playoffs. I wanted to go down making more history and winning the first round of the playoffs.”
Yet another goal acomplished. Garza and the Gladiators rallied in the second half to beat Mercedes 28-21 before bowing out in the second round on a narrow 28-24 loss to Gregory-Portland H.S. Garza threw a touchdown pass with 1:46 left in the game to put Roma in front 24-21, but Gregory-Portland rallied back for the victory.
While it was a painful loss for Roma, it was an incredible season. “It was amazing … it was somehting else,” said Garza, a 6-foot-1, 193-pounder. “It was just so exciting. I’m going to remember my brothers, my teammates. This is the one team where we really connected and everyone was working all together. We weren’t working as individuals. And I’ll always remember all the coaches that helped us get to where we wanted to go.”

Next level

Garza combined for over 1,000 yards passing and rushing in his senior season, and he was voted second team All District 31-5A at quarterback. He was also voted first team All District at punter.
If his kicking skills help Garza play Division I football, that is fine. The University of Houston has expressed an interest. Garza is also on the radar of multiple smaller schools as a quarterback.
Playing college football has been a long-time goal for Garza, so expect him to keep pushing until it becomes reality.
“I’m going to keep working hard from now until whenever trying to make it to college ball,” Garza said. “It’s always been my dream and I’m not going to let anything stop me from reaching my goal.”

NFA influence

Garza has the skills to make it as a QB at the next level, and he credits his three years of training with NFA for helping him develop.
“If I didn’t have NFA, I don’t know what would have happened,” Garza said. “I probably would have been playing safety or receiver. NFA really changed a lot for me. Coach (JC) Boice, he’s been really good to me. I’m just really thankful for meeting him and all the NFA coaches. I’m thankful for all their help, for them helping me get my mechanics down and getting all the other good quarterback things down.”

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Scot Gregor is an award-winning sportswriter for the Chicago Daily Herald. In addition to writing about Big 10 and Notre Dame football, Gregor has also covered the White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls and college basketball. He grew up in Pittsburgh and watched the Steelers rise to prominence in the 1970s. Gregor has a B.S. degree in Journalism from Ohio University