Mike Terry, Deseret News
Note: Roy finished with a 6-4 overall record in 2012 and was fifth in Region 5 with a 1-4 record. It did not qualify for the 4A playoffs.
ROY — Step by step, Fred Fernandes is turning around Roy High's football fortunes.
And a return to glory could be right around the corner.
Last year, Fernandes guided the Royals to a 6-4 overall record for their first winning season in more than 20 years — a similar 6-4 mark back in 1991.
And this year, the next step he hopes to take with this program is to get the Black 'n Gold back into the state playoffs, something Roy High hasn't been able to accomplish since 2007.
Heartbreaking losses to Cache Valley foes Logan and Sky View denied the Royals their postseason opportunity last year, but Fernandes is depending on an explosive offensive attack to get them over the hump this year.
"The winning season last year was big, and now we've just got to improve on that and take the next step," the Royals' third-year head coach said. "It's just a matter of finishing games. Our sophomores went undefeated last year, so I think you learn to win in the younger program, especially the sophomore program, and I think they have done that.
"We're going to be real hard to stop offensively. We've had a really productive offensive summer and fall so far, and if we can stay healthy, I think we can be pretty good. But we're thin on numbers and we just might have to outscore people, at least early on.
"Offensively we can be pretty explosive, one of those teams where you're one snap away from scoring no matter where you're at on the field," Fernandes said. "I think we're going to be pretty exciting to watch. We've got quite a few guys returning after getting valuable playing time a year ago and even two years ago, and we're still young. I'm counting on the offense to be able to score points, and if we're gonna be any good, then that has to happen."
Leading the offensive charge is junior quarterback Tyler Skidmore. He's already seen plenty of playing time as a starting QB the past two years.
"He's a different quarterback than he was two years ago or even last year," Fernandes said. "He's gained 25 pounds; he's 6 foot 3, and he's went from a boy to a man.
"It doesn't matter who it is, he throws the ball right on the money. His field awareness, his intelligence, his arm strength has improved so much, as has his physical structure. And it's great when your best player is also your hardest worker. He's the No. 1-committed kid we've got. He's the first one here and the last one to leave every day."
Skidmore, who will be backed up by junior Jake Gallegos, another good athlete who plays wide receiver, isn't the only potent weapon in the Royals' offense.
At running back, they've got a pair of part-time returning starters in seniors Justin Weaver and Cameron Shaw. Sophomore Matty Matautia has had a great summer and is showing signs of being a real good one.
The fullback position is still a wide-open battle between sophomore BabyTee Eteuati, senior Darrin Dominguez and junior Robert Nunez, who's recovering from a broken ankle.
At wide receiver, Gallegos is joined by junior returning starters Nate Jones and Logan LaRose, with seniors Skylar Hoover and Aiden Whiting and junior Jaden Brown also expecting to have passes thrown their way.
Cody Hobbs gives the Royals another junior returning starter at tight end. "He's one of our best players and can play fullback as well," said Fernandes, who in his day was one of the greatest all-around athletes this school has ever seen. "He runs really well and catches everything, and he's a smart kid."