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."
At center, senior Kayne Boyer is a returning starter, and he'll be backed up by junior Connor Clay. The offensive guards include senior returning starter Pedro Quintana, junior James Martinez, senior Connor McCorry and junior Jackson Herre. At offensive tackle, senior Jake Cragun will start when he returns in a few weeks following a knee injury that required surgery, while juniors Damian Trujillo and Bridger Gray will line up there. Fernandes feels like the O-line has looked very good thus far.
Over on defense, the tackles will be juniors James Martinez and David Dorber, and Hoover will start at defensive end, where sophomore Andres Martinez also shows plenty of promise. Boyer, Quintana, Whiting and senior Calvin Yardley will also see action on the D-line.
The linebacker position is thin, but Hobbs, Matautia, Weaver, Whiting and juniors Kyden DeGroot and Ben Aikuli are aiming to shore things up.
Aikuli will be the placekicker, with sophomore Brayden Sampson right on his heels, and Hobbs will handle the punting chores.
A lack of depth could be a big problem, especially because so many of his players are going both ways.
"We could be pretty darned good if we can keep everybody healthy and they don't get tired," Fernandes said. "A lot of our defensive starters are offensive starters, too, so if you lose one kid, you really lose two."
He has high hopes that his junior-laden, offensive-oriented team can be a contender in the Region 5 race.
"It's a tough league," Fernandes said. "Box Elder, in my opinion, I would pick them No. 1 just because of their starting offensive players. I think Mountain Crest is always gonna be solid and Logan, and then us and Sky View are right there with them.
"I'm hoping that we can challenge a little bit for the region."
That would be a giant step in the right direction, and with a state playoff berth looming as a very realistic goal, the Royals' return to glory seems to be getting closer every day.
Roy Royals at a glance
Coach: Fred Fernandes begins his third season as head coach at his alma mater, where he has compiled a 10-9 record in his first two years. He is 97-52 overall in 14 seasons as a high school head coach and guided Northridge High to three straight state 5A championships from 2000-02.
(6 returning starters; multiple formations)
Junior quarterback Tyler Skidmore, who already has two seasons as a starter under his belt, is being counted upon to orchestrate an explosive attack that plans on piling up plenty of points. Senior running backs Justin Weaver and Cameron Shaw, sophomore running back Matty Matautia, junior wide receivers Nate Jones and Logan LaRose, senior wide receiver Skylar Hoover and junior tight end Cody Hobbs are all potent weapons, too, and seniors Kayne Boyer, Pedro Quintana and Jake Cragun and juniors James Martinez, Damian Trujillo and Bridger Gray anchor an O-line that looks like it can make some room for all those playmakers.
(3 returning starters; 4-3-4)
Due to a lack of depth, many of the Royals' offensive starters will head up their defensive lineup as well, so fatigue and injuries are a concern. Linemen David Dorber, James Martinez, Skylar Hoover, Andres Martinez, Kayne Boyer and Pedro Quintana will be called upon to lead the way, with Cody Hobbs, Matty Matautia and Justin Weaver heading up a thin linebacker corps. Cameron Shaw, Grayson Flint, Logan LaRose and Nate Jones will lead the secondary for a defense that will be counted on to get the ball back for that explosive offense.
Coaches preseason Region 5 straw poll: Fifth
Deseret News Region 5 prediction: Fourth
Bottom line: The resurgent Royals are coming off their first winning season in more than two decades, and the next step in their progression is to nail down a postseason playoff berth. With an offense that should be busy lighting up the scoreboard on a regular basis, this team will be great fun to watch and Fernandes' hope is that the Royals can outscore their opponents if they get into a high-scoring shootout. They'll be led by a large group of talented juniors who have been highly successful and have every intention of putting Roy back on the playoff map. Midseason home games against Mountain Crest and Box Elder loom large, and the regular-season finale at Sky View could be the one that pushes the Royals over the top. But they may still be a year away from being serious contenders for a league championship.
Aug. 23 — at Clearfield, 7 p.m.
Aug. 30 — WEBER, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 — at Fremont, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 — MOUNTAIN CREST, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 — at Logan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 — BOX ELDER, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 — at Ogden, 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 — bye
Oct. 16 — BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24 — at Sky View, 7 p.m.
Felts Facts for Roy High School
All-time record: 213-262-2 (48 years)
Region championships: 7 (1975, 1976, 1980 co, 1983 co, 1989 co, 1990 co, 1991 co)
Playoff appearances: 20
All-time playoff record: 11-19
State championships: 1 (1981)
State championship record:1-1
Most played rivalry: 48 meetings with Bonneville dating back to 1965. Bonneville leads 34-15. Meet on Oct. 16.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Royal Larry Riggs holds the record for longest interception return in a championship game: 88 yards in 1981. Even though Riggs didn’t score, Roy defeated Bonneville 14-13 for the 4A title. ... Roy is one of just eight teams to keep an opponent from gaining a first down in a game (2001 vs. Ogden).
Roy coaching history
2011-current — Fred Fernandes (10-9)
2010 — Ron Koford (1-9)
2008-2009 — Roger Horne (2-18)
2006-2007 — Rod Bockwoldt (9-13)
2003-2005 — Brian Berrong (8-22)
2000-2002 — Guy Andersen (7-23)
1997-1999 — Shane Quilling (3-25)
1994-1996 — Mark Smith (6-23)
1982-1993 — Fred Thompson (56-60)
1970-1981 — Ernest Jacklin (79-44-1)
1967-1969 — Unknown (23-8)
1965-1966 — DelRay "Ted" Campbell (9-8-1)
Deseret News First Team all-staters the past 10 years
2005 — Daniel Elgaaen, Specialist
2004 — Drew Willard, TE
To view second team and honorable mention all-staters through the years, check out the Deseret News All-State Archives.