Any time a new high school is built, there will be intense sports rivalries between the new school and the schools whose boundaries it impacted.
They match kids and families against each other who previously spent a generation or more playing on the same little league and high school teams, working in the same businesses, eating at the same places.
Roy and Fremont high schools represent one of those split-school rivalries, stemming from Fremont’s opening in 1994 and taking a sizable chunk of students from both Weber High and Roy High boundaries.
“As soon as Fremont was built, they all went to Fremont,” said Mike Hein, a former longtime teacher and athletic director at Roy High. “The first year, they gave the (seniors) a choice, they could stay at Roy or go, and probably 99% of them went to the new school. We got a brand new school, this is cool. Nobody wanted to stay at Roy.”
The 99% is probably hyperbole, but the fact remains that there was a large exodus to the new school.
It started out as a backyard rivalry, as expected. Whether it was friendly or not depends on the point of view, but people who were around the rivalry at the start said it wasn’t nasty.
“There were times where Fremont people would come and put an ‘F’ on the field and Roy would return the favor the next year. It happened a couple times, always discouraged by coaches and administrators and everything, but you had a few rogue students who did occasionally,” Hein said.
“When the schools split, it was a good, friendly crosstown rival game. I lived in Roy at the time and a lot of their players lived in my neighborhood and I was happy for them when they had success,” said former Fremont head coach Blaine Monkres, who is now head coach at Dixie High in St. George.
Lately, Fremont-Roy has taken on a hotter temperature, particularly in football, putting some aspects into the “hate” and “unfriendly” category, contrary to how it started.
Brief stares have turned to icy glares. There have been postgame coach confrontations and plenty of trash talk before, during and after the games by both sides, along with potshots lobbed back-and-forth both privately and publicly between each faction.
Recently, speeches by players in practices leading up to the game have used midweek trash talk by the other team as a motivating factor.
One Fremont player called Roy “the ‘R’ school” this summer and Roy players referred to Fremont as “that school over there” last year, owing to an apparent fact that each school lives rent-free in the other’s minds.
Vandals left red and blue paint, put stickers down depicting a popular social media hashtag used by Fremont students leading up to the Roy game, and bent one of the bleachers on the visiting side of Roy’s football stadium following Roy’s 2016 win.
The two schools stopped playing after that, citing scheduling conflicts brought on by the 2017 realignment that were immediately interpreted by some on the Roy side to mean that Fremont was scared to play the game.
Coaches of both schools are publicly diplomatic about the game, but it’s circled on everyone’s calendars.
So what happened and what changed?
The answer from both current head coaches is that Roy started winning.
Roy won the first game between the two schools in 1994. Fremont won in 1995, 1996 and didn’t lose again — with many blowouts along the way — until 2012 when Roy won 26-0 in Fred Fernandes’ second year coaching the Royals.
“I think it happened as soon as they had beat us when Freddie had become the coach, the ‘Plain City Prayer’ or whatever they call it, kind of amped up that whole rivalry ... it’s been on since then,” Silverwolves coach Ross Arnold said.
Since the 2012 win, the Royals have won an additional five straight in the series, all by one possession:
• The Hail Mary pass in 2013, dubbed the “Plain City Prayer.”
• A late interception in 2014 that ended a fourth-quarter Fremont comeback.
• A bizarre safety in 2015 on the last play of the game as Roy played keepaway.
• A two-touchdown burst in 2016 in a flag-filled fourth quarter and a near-Hail Mary for Fremont.
• And a 14-point, fourth-quarter comeback last year in a game that Fernandes says he was sure Fremont had Roy cornered.
“Anything can happen in this game,” Fernandes said.
To be fair, Fremont’s rivalry with Weber has stepped up a couple levels. The last three games against the Warriors have had either been for the outright Region 1 title or had serious title implications.
Most the cities that encompass Fremont’s boundaries — Plain City, West Haven, Taylor, etc. — were part of Weber’s old boundaries and Monkres said the Fremont-Weber rivalry in the ’90s was the unfriendly one.
But there was loads more anticipation for last year’s Fremont-Roy game, the first between the schools in three years, than there was for a televised home game with Weber.
“Bragging rights, man. The people at Roy don’t want to lose to Fremont, the people at Fremont don’t want to lose to Roy, it goes beyond the players that are playing the game so that’s why it’s such a heated rivalry,” said Fernandes, who is a Roy alum and has coached at both schools.
The Royals love to celebrate the wins.
Roy’s players celebrated last year’s dramatic win in the west end zone not too far from the Fremont sideline.
Later that night on social media, a man accused Fernandes of paying off the officials before the game, to which Fernandes replied with a GIF of former Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wearing a king’s crown and pointing at the number six, indicating six-straight wins.
Despite COVID-19 regulations meaning this year’s matchup will have reduced capacity, it’s not expected to take away from the atmosphere.
“I fully anticipate a classic Roy-Fremont vibe,” Arnold said. “Obviously, the last couple years it’s been really loud at times during the game, it’ll still be a physical hard-hitting game, kids will play hard, then I fully expect it to be like the rest of the games and have it come down to the wire.”
YEAR BY YEAR RESULTS
1994: Roy 18, Fremont 8
1995: Fremont 19, Roy 0
1996: Fremont 12, Roy 11
1997: Fremont 24, Roy 7
1998: Fremont 56, Roy 18
1999: Fremont 58, Roy 22
2000: Fremont 21, Roy 6
2001: Fremont 30, Roy 14
2002: Fremont 36, Roy 3
2009: Fremont 26, Roy 7
2010: Fremont 42, Roy 0
2011: Fremont 42, Roy 6
2012: Roy 26, Fremont 0
2013: Roy 13, Fremont 12
2014: Roy 27, Fremont 20
2015: Roy 19, Fremont 15
2016: Roy 27, Fremont 20
2019: Roy 37, Fremont 31
Editor's note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect a quote later clarified by the subject that it was Roy seniors given the option to attend the newly built Fremont for their final school year.
WEEK 3 NOTABLE GAMES
GAME OF THE WEEK: ROY AT FREMONT
Fremont (0-2) has played two 2-0 teams and will play a third in Roy (2-0).
The Silverwolves are still breaking in some of their young players, but the two losses so far have given the team a lot to work on.
Expect to see two quarterbacks, Cannon Kofford and Drake Parker, and a host of really good skill players including Tage Bingham and Hayden Hall who can give Roy’s secondary trouble.
On Roy’s side, Fernandes said the team’s been playing good defense the first two games and making enough plays everywhere else to get by.
Fernandes said in the summer that Roy would be more run-heavy than it’s been in years past, but quarterback Parker Kingston completed 20 for 30 passes last week against Dixie with a TD pass.
Kingston has five TD passes, three of which have gone to Cade Harris. Izzy Gordon has two rushing TDs.
Fremont leads the all-time series 11-7. FHS won 11 in a row from 1995-2011 while Roy has won the last six.
CLEARFIELD AT WEBER
Weber (1-0) has won the last five against Clearfield (0-2), which hasn’t beaten the Warriors since 2010 despite owning the series 26-15 all-time, according to football historian George Felt.
BEAR RIVER AT BONNEVILLE
Bonneville (1-1) is 15-2 all-time against Bear River (2-0), which last beat the Lakers in 1964, according to Felt’s records.
MILFORD AT OGDEN
Ogden (2-0) looks for a 3-0 start for the first time since 2009. Logan Shobe has five rushing touchdowns.
BEN LOMOND AT EVANSTON (WY)
'This is Ben Lomond’s (1-1) first meeting with Evanston High, the Scots’ first-ever game in Wyoming and their first game against an out-of-state school since 1978 when they played Century (Idaho).
SYRACUSE AT LAYTON
Syracuse (0-2) has won the last 10 games against Layton (0-2) by an average of 22.7 points per game.
DAVIS AT NORTHRIDGE
Running back Spencer Ferguson has 351 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Davis (2-0). Logan Smith leads the Knights (0-2) with 220 receiving yards.
BOX ELDER AT RIGBY (ID)
It’s the first meeting between the two schools. Bees defensive end Gavin Hansen has three sacks so far after 15 last year. Rigby won the 5A Idaho state championship last year by converting a two-point conversion in double overtime.