Johnson High School’s head football coach is returning to his alma mater to lead athletics at Judson High School, and an assistant coach at Veterans Memorial High School has been promoted to lead athletics at that campus.

The Judson ISD school board on Dec. 16 approved hiring Mark Soto as athletic coordinator/head football coach at Judson High, where he was a member of the Class of 1991.

JISD trustees also approved the selection of Robert Irvin, an assistant football and baseball coach at Veterans Memorial High, as the campus’s athletic coordinator and head football coach.

Judson High is a renowned Texas high school football powerhouse, having recorded 44 consecutive winning seasons.

But the Rockets experienced a difficult 2021 season, finishing 4-6 overall. Rodney Williams was fired following a 2-5 start to his third season as Judson’s head football coach. Offensive Coordinator Joel Call served as interim coach the rest of the season.

Soto spent the last two years as athletic coordinator and head football coach at Johnson High in North East ISD. He tallied a 19-3 record over those two seasons, including a District 28-6A championship and a 10-1 overall record in 2021.

At Judson, Soto played for famed head coach D.W. Rutledge, who led the 1990 Rockets squad to the Class 5A Division I state title game in the Alamodome, when Judson lost to Marshall (Texas) High School, 21-19.

Soto said he is excited about returning to Judson and looks forward to guiding the Rockets toward another state crown bid.

“I am bringing all my energies to bear on this one thing—winning a state championship. It will take a complete positive community buy-in along with faith, effort and understanding,” he said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Soto offered an apology to his football players, colleagues and community members at Johnson, where he said many student-athletes learned of his departure in news reports and social media.

“I am blessed to have had the opportunity to work with these amazing kids, hard-working parents and goal-oriented coaches,” Soto added.

Irvin has been with the Patriots athletics staff since JISD’s third high school opened in 2016.

He has been offensive coordinator in football, a varsity assistant baseball coach, a recruiting coordinator and a strength program coordinator. Irvin also has chaired the school’s science department.

Irvin replaces Richard Mendoza, who now serves as principal of Judson High School.

“I am honored to continue the traditions we have built here, and I am looking forward to the opportunity to ‘earn everything, everyday. This message is a core value of the school and continues to identify us as a family,” Irvin said in a statement.