Prep football preview: Roy Royals
EDITOR'S NOTE • This is one in a series of previews of Utah's high school football programs. They will run throughout the summer leading up to the 2014 regular season, which begins Aug. 21.
The Royals certainly showed they could be competitive a year ago and, it seems, that all that is needed for another step forward would be a better defense.
For that, Roy might just utilize some talented young players to go with upperclassmen who are developing physically at a quick rate. If it all comes together, look for the Royals to improve upon a first-round playoff exit which ended the 2013 campaign.
Although Roy only lost four games last year, the opposition scored 49, 49, 56 and 65 points on those occasions.
Now the Royals will have the services of junior Matty Matautai and sophomore Wynton Lamar to go with the veterans. Matautai (6 feet, 210 pounds) blew out an ACL in the first game of last season. Lamar (6-3, 205), meanwhile, will be making his debut on the varsity, after playing junior high ball in '13.
"Weber County is the only school district in the country that has ninth-grade junior high football," said Roy coach Fred Fernandes in explaining why Lamar didn't play for the Royals a year ago. "The rule here is that if you play any varsity as a freshman, that's all you get to play."
The returning stalwarts on defense include senior David Dorber (6-1, 220), a three-year starter at defensive end, senior defensive tackle James Martinez (6-0, 240) and junior end "Baby" Tee Eteuati (5-10, 240).
On offense, Eteuati will join Matautai in the Roy backfield to give veteran quarterback Tyler Skidmore some good running options, while Skidmore will look to the likes of senior Nate Jones (6-4, 210) as a throwing target.
"Skid can make every throw on the field," Fernandes said.
Up front, tackle Damian Trujillo (Sr., 6-2, 280) and guard Bridger Gray (Sr., 6-1, 250) will provide blocking for the Royals' offensive weapons.
"I think this is the strongest team that I've had since I've been here," Fernandes said. "I'd like to think that we can compete for a state championship."
Last year • 6-4 overall (3-3 in Region 5; lost in first round)
Key returner • Senior QB Tyler Skidmore ( 6-3, 205) is expected to be a solid veteran presence for the Royals.
Player to watch • Sophomore LB Wynton Lamar will join the varsity in hopes of bolstering a defense that was porous in the team's losses last year.
Biggest hole • The Royals hope that young players like Lamar and Matty Matautai will build up the linebacking corps around senior Cody Hobbs (6-2, 220).
Need to know • Roy's last five games are against the same teams, in the same order, as in 2013, when the team went 2-3 down the last critical stretch.