ROY -- Fred Fernandes isn't fond of the word rebuilding.
Despite sculpting a dominate football program at Northridge High -- where he won three consecutive state 5-A titles -- and reviving a struggling team at Woods Cross -- a program that hadn't posted a winning season in nearly 20 years before he arrived -- Fernandes sees his new home at Roy High in an entirely different light.
"More than rebuilding it was just a matter of getting to know what we have," Fernandes said. "The pieces are already here. We are trying to identify our strengths and weaknesses and tweak that to fit the system we are trying to install. It's more of re-fitting the pieces into a new puzzle."
Returning to his alma mater, where he was a multi-sport star, Fernandes brings back a winning tradition the Royals desperately need.
After snoozing at the bottom of the standings for the past three seasons (last place in Region 1 from 2009-10 and last place in Region 5 in 2008), Roy gains a coach who hopes to eventually guide his team to its first playoff appearance since 2007.
"The administration at Roy High and the athletic director made it feel like a place I wanted to be," Fernandes said. "And obviously, the challenge of trying to turn around a once-proud program and try to bring it back up was enticing."
"I always thought I'd want to maybe finish up (my coaching career) here and get back to Roy sometime."
For the time being, Fernandes' master plan is youth.
The Royals will start freshman quarterback Tyler Skidmore in Friday's season-opener at Clearfield after a summer-long position battle with senior Wyatt Fielding and junior Garrett Bowman.
"It's not a questionmark anymore," Fernandes said. "Tyler's one of a couple of freshman who have stepped up and decided to play with us instead of in junior high. He's been a playmaker all summer for us and he feels very comfortable running the offense. I think he's also won over his teammates."
Although Skidmore gets the starting nod on Friday, Fielding and Bowman -- who are both battling injuries -- could see playing time this season.
Set to protect Skidmore is an experienced offensive line that includes Cody Colemere, Kiernan Fredrickson, Jaxon Garcia and Bryton Bell, all of whom are seniors.
Taking the bulk of the carries at tailback will be senior Jake Trujillo, who returns after being the centerpiece of Roy's offense in 2010.
"Jake was a big leader and playmaker for the team last year, so I'm very happy to have him with us," Fernandes said. "The offensive line may be the key to our success, though. They worked very hard during the winter and I think we will have a very strong running game."
At wide receiver, the Royals will depend on senior Jordan Beyer to guide a trio of juniors in Connor McGuire, Ryan Taylor and David Hadley. Freshman Nate Jones could see time at split end, as well.
On defense, senior defensive end Marcus Matuatia -- a transfer from Northridge -- will provide a bruising presence on Roy's line.
"Marcus is going to be a difference maker for us," Fernandes said. "I think he might be the premier defensive lineman in our league. He's just one of those unblockable guys."
Helping Matuatia on the other end is senior pass rusher Jacob Beckett and senior defensive tackles Dominic Jordan and Taylor Okey, who hope to stuff a run-happy Region 5.
The Royals have a lot of athletes at linebacker, led by senior Jace Weaver and juniors Kennedy Linehan, Noah MacInnes and Braxton Patten.
In the secondary, juniors Ryan Taylor and Jake Smith will likely see significant time in addition to juniors Jett Russell and Grady Hansen, who Fernandes says is Roy's best all-round player.
Now that the Royals are in Region 5 and no longer playing in 5-A's Region 1, Roy is primed to revamp a program that hasn't experienced a winning season in some time.
"That was murderer's row (Region 1) playing that schedule last year," Fernandes said. "Region 5 is going to be tough, too, but we are very excited. You never know what you have until you start playing."
About the Royals
Coach: Fred Fernandes (1st season)
2010 in review: 1-7 Region 1, 1-9 overall; missed state 5-A playoffs
Returning starters: 6 (3 offense, 3 defense)
2011 slate: 4-A's Region 5
Players to watch: Jake Trujillo, senior, running back; Marcus Matuatia, senior, defensive end/fullback; Cody Colemere, senior, offensive line; Ryan Taylor, junior, cornerback/receiver; Tyler Skidmore, freshman, quarterback; Grady Hansen, junior, defensive back; Jace Weaver, senior, linebacker; Kiernan Fredrickson, senior, offensive line; Jaxon Garcia, senior, offensive line; Bryton Bell, senior, offensive line; David Hadley, junior, receiver; Dominic Jordan, senior, defensive line