In the long list of great Alice Coyote running backs, Robert Soza still stands tall, even some 36 years after finishing high school.
To this day, Soza remains Alice’s single-season rushing leader with 1,599 yards on 259 carries. A three-year starter, he is also the program’s all-time leading rusher with a total of 3,513 yards between 1980 and 1982.
However, Soza is humble when he talks about the records and what he did at Alice High School, insisting that he is only one of many talented running backs to wear Alice’s burnt orange and white. He also says his statistics are the product of some great teams and an offense which relied heavily on him running the ball.
“If you look at all of the great running backs Alice has had over the years, they all ran different offenses,” said Soza, who is now an assistant coach at New Braunfels Canyon High School. “At the time, we ran out of the I (formation) in a Pro Style offense. Because of that, I got the ball a whole lot more than what today’s running backs might get. Look at past Alice running backs like Benny Mireles and some of those others, they were gifted and talented. It was all just different with offenses and carries.
“I just happen to be there playing for Alice at a time when I was able to get a lot of carries. I’m lucky to have been there at that time, and I take a lot of pride in having played for the Alice Coyotes.”
Soza had 80 carries for 932 yards as a sophomore and 982 rushing yards as a junior.
Soza and his brother Chris Soza make up the Alice Coyote Athletic Hall of Honor class of 2018. The two are being inducted Friday and are being recognized during halftime of Friday’s game.
Carries aside, Tony Bill, who heads up the Hall of Honor, said Soza remains one the most elusive and athletic running backs ever to line up in Alice’s backfield.
“Robert Soza is surely one of the most prolific running backs in the history of Coyote football,” Bill said. “There have been numerous running backs like Pete Vargas, Benny Mireles and Augie Hinojosa to name a few, but Robert Soza started as a sophomore and played each game until he finished. That gives you an idea of his ability to run the ball and his athleticism and to start on varsity for three years.”
Before Robert made a name for himself on Friday nights, his brother Chris had built a reputation as one of the finest quarterbacks to lead the Coyotes. Soza was a three-year starter for the Coyotes between 1977 and 1979. He is a part of the Alice High School Class of 1980. He played for Alice coach L.G. Henderson. He finished his high school playing career as one of the Coyotes’ all-time winningest quarterbacks with an impressive 24-6-1 record and four playoff wins.
Soza made the Alice varsity squad as a sophomore and took over midway through the season. As a senior, Soza’s skill at running the Coyotes’ Wing-T offense was superb. It showed as the Alice offense averaged 28 points a game in the regular season. The Coyotes went 9-1 and claimed another district championship. The Coyotes beat McAllen, 41-35, to set-up a rematch against Austin Reagan in the regional playoffs. This time, Alice got the better of Reagan and won 31-13. It was the exact score in which Reagan had beaten Alice two seasons before. Alice went on to beat San Antonio Wheatley, 29-20, in the quarterfinals, earning a trip to the state semifinals. At the time, it was only the Alice program second time reaching the semifinals. To date, the Coyotes have played in the state semifinals only four times.