ROY — The Royals don’t care if teams overlook them.
In fact, they hope they do.
After finishing in a tie for last place in Region 5 in 2011, the Roy High football team has a renewed energy for 2012, returning 10 starters from last season’s young squad — a team that was loaded with talented underclassmen.
“Naturally, I’ll be very disappointed if we don’t make the playoffs,” said coach Fred Fernandes. “We play in a tough league where there are no patsies and for a long time, we used to be that patsy. I’m sure a lot of the schools still think we are, so I hope we can spoil a lot of homecomings this year.”
The returning youth starts at quarterback for the Royals. With Tyler Skidmore and Garrett Bowman both getting valuable playing time last season, the two are in a heated duel in camp, hoping to earn the starting nod for Roy’s Week 1 matchup against Clearfield on Friday.
Skidmore is a sophomore, while Bowman is a senior, but age doesn’t matter to Fernandes, who is just happy the two are feeding off the competition in practice.
“That’s how it should be,” Fernandes said. “They both should have the feeling that they are both capable of winning the job.”
Helping Skidmore and Bowman in the run game is a committee of tailbacks. Senior Hunter Grimes and junior Justin Weaver will both see time at running back, complimented by a trio of senior fullbacks in Grady Hansen, Kennedy Linehan and Austin Terry, who transferred from Fremont last season, but will not play until Week 4 due to transfer rules.
A plethora of Royals will also take the field as receivers, including seniors Ryan Taylor, Connor McGuire and David Hadley. Nate Jones and Logan LeRose will also be in the mix. Seniors Braxton Patten and Noah MacInnes will split tight end duties along with sophomore Cody Hobbs.
In the trenches, three seniors will lead the way.
Ryker Mlyinarski will start at center, flanked by Tyler Nicoterra and Tim Jenkins on the left side.
“Our line is much stronger physically than we were last year,” Fernandes said. “Depth may be a bit of an issue, but these guys are big and strong and will be a big help.”
On defense, Patten and MacInnes are slated to play at defensive end, with Nicoterra and Terry filling out the defensive interior.
The Royals are particularly deep at linebacker, led by Linehan, Hansen and Grimes. Hansen, Hobbs and sophomore David Dorber will also be on the field, in addition to Texas transfer Braden Hartzell.
Senior Jake Smith and Jaden Titensore headline Fernandes’ secondary in addition to Taylor, LaRose, Jones and McGuire.
“Our defense is what kept us in games last year when our offense struggled, and they should be even better this year,” Fernandes said. “The players care for eachother and are gelling as good as they can up to this point. It’s kind of like Christmas Eve around here. There’s a lot of anticipation and you just can’t wait to get going.”
And what would be a better early Christmas gift?
For the Royals, their first playoff appearance since 2007 would be fun to unwrap.