Note: Roy finished with a 6-4 overall record in 2013 and was fourth in Region 5 with a 3-3 record. It lost to East 65-14 in the first round of the 4A playoffs.
ROY — Ever since Fred Fernandes took over as Roy High's head football coach in 2011, he's been eagerly looking forward to the year when what was an outstanding young group of athletes would become seniors.
Well, that year is finally here.
And now is the time for them to shine and show what they can do.
Fernandes, a former Roy High football, basketball and baseball star, begins his fourth season at the Royals' helm with a squad that has tons of talent and plenty of experience. Last year, the Royals earned the school's first postseason appearance since 2007, but had the misfortune of running into a powerhouse East High team in the opening round of the state playoffs and got manhandled.
This year, Fernandes feels like the Royals are poised to make a deep run in the postseason — provided they don't get tripped up by injuries, since their lack of depth is an issue that could cost them if key players go down and must be replaced.
"We've got a lot of experienced players, but we don't have a whole lot of players — period," he said. "For a 4A school with a legitimate shot at winning it all this year, we should have a lot more players.
"We're just not getting 'em in the sophomore class — every year we get between about 20 and 26, and this year we have 22. Especially with Sand Ridge winning it all (in the Weber County junior high school league) last year, you'd think there'd be a lot more of them, but there must be a lot of kids in Weber County who end their football careers in junior high school. I don't know what the answer is."
Fernandes was almost incredulous when talking about schools like Syracuse and Region 5 rival Sky View, which each have more than 80 sophomore players in their programs.
But this senior-led group that Fernandes does have this year is a darned good one, and he likes their chances.
"Other than the fact that our numbers are way down, we're pretty solid all across the board," Fernandes said. "But we're not deep.
"I think we've got enough talent to compete with anybody, really. I've got some guys that will be going both ways this year, but if we stay healthy, we've got a shot at being pretty good."
"Pretty good" is probably a huge understatement, but Fernandes is staying cautiously optimistic.
However, when he says "legitimate shot at winning it all," he's not just talking about the region title — he's talking about the state championship, something the school has done just once in its history.
One big reason the Royals are brimming with confidence this season is the fact that 15 starters return from last year's team — seven on offense, and eight on defense — including several key performers in the skill positions who have already proved themselves to be mighty potent weapons.
It all starts with quarterback Tyler Skidmore, a senior who will be a seldom-seen four-year starter for the Royals. Last season, Skidmore threw for 2,559 yards and 27 touchdowns, and Fernandes is looking for more of the same this year from his stellar senior signal-caller.
"I think he's going to have a real solid year," the Roy coach said. "He's like a coach on the field. He has the ability to make every throw out there. He can throw it on the run, he can throw from the pocket, he can throw it with pace and with touch. He's just an all-around solid quarterback, and he's a great leader.