ROY — Fred Fernandes is calm when he talks about the outlook of the Roy High football team this year.
Judging on where the Royals stand heading into the season, it’s pretty hard for some to remain calm about it and contain their excitement.
The excitement is centered around a team that could be very good this year.
Fernandes says the defense and the offensive lines are better than he’s ever had at Roy. Last year’s starting quarterback, sophomore Jaxson Dart, returns along with three starting receivers.
“I think we’re going to be really dangerous on offense with the ability to score from anywhere on the field, and I think we’re going to be as solid as we’ve ever been on defense,” Fernandes said.
There’s a lot to gush about, he said. The defensive line is deep, the secondary features three multi-year starters, the offensive line is deep and the receiving corps is experienced and talented.
Fernandes said his biggest concern is the running backs are untested at the varsity level, though he’s excited about who could potentially be in the mix for that position.
Three players are battling: juniors Moises Martinez and Carson Hill, and a sophomore named Izzy Gordon who had an “off the charts” offseason.
The team appears to be experienced and talented, and other teams have taken notice. Some coaches have quietly been impressed with how Roy looked in the offseason and didn’t hesitate to peg the Royals as one of the favorites to win Region 5.
“(The returning players) know our defense, they know how varsity football works and people are holding us pretty high and hopefully we can live up to those expectations,” receiver Kyrese Rowan said.
For all the talent, experience and depth, Rowan says there’s some motivation to atone for last year’s 52-6 home playoff game shellacking at the hands of Alta.
Of course, talking about good Roy teams means mentioning the 2014 state runners-up. Those Royals went 12-1 and didn’t lose until the state championship game against Timpview.
Fernandes says a lot of the aspects of this year’s team are better than the 2014 team, which raises the question: can the Royals make a deep run?
If they do, it will be earned, as Roy has the most difficult schedule of any area team.
“We’ve got a lot of talent and a lot of returning starters,” Dart said. “I think we can go deep into the playoffs, I think we can do some really special things this year.”
As a freshman, Dart completed 47.8 percent of his passes for 1,396 yards and 11 touchdowns with 12 interceptions. In the final four games of the year, he only threw one pick compared to three TD’s.
Fernandes said Dart hurt his elbow in the playoff game against Alta and had surgery in the offseason, and he’s apparently recovering well.
Dart said he’s been working on his footwork, decision-making and staying calm in the pocket, the latter of which should be aided by the deep offensive line that includes 6-foot-6, 280-pound Davis transfer Zack Mendoza.
“This summer (Dart) was about 80 percent and he was pretty damn good, so he’s getting close to 100 percent,” Fernandes said.
The Royals are in the midst of a six-year stretch where they’ve gone 42-21, their best such stretch since a 44-19 stretch from 1973-78. Many think Roy’s current train can keep on rolling.
Not a whole lot, except a new coach Matt Brown, helping with defensive backs.
Key stretch: Opening with Syracuse and Weber. But it’s not about winning either of them, it’s about getting out of those games without major injuries against two big teams.
Loading up: Roy has the hardest schedule of any area team (.611), bolstered by games against Weber (9-2), Syracuse (7-4) and Skyridge (12-2, 5A runner-up last year) in non-region play.