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High school football: Only one way to go for Roy High Royals in 2010

SHARE High school football: Only one way to go for Roy High Royals in 2010

Note: Roy finished with an 0-10 overall record in 2009 and an 0-8 mark in Region 1. It did not qualify for the 5A playoffs.

ROY — Roy High's first year in 5A football didn't go as well as the Royals hoped.

Hoping for a fresh start against a new set of region foes, Roy struggled. The Royals went 0-10 and never scored more than seven points in a game in 2009. Roy's closest margin of defeat was 19 points.

There's only one way for the Royals to go — up.

"I think it was an eye-opener for the kids last year with the region we went into, and this year there's not going to be that awe factor, that newness to it," said Roy coach Roger Horne. "They know what to expect."

The Royals certainly return enough experience to know what to expect in the always-tough Region 1. Roy brings back seven starters on offense, including quarterback Austin Storey, and three on defense. Those players remember what it was like to get blown out and beaten down every week.

Horne tried everything in his playbook — and outside of football logic — to get his Royals going, such as going entire games without punting late in the season.

The third-year Roy head coach doesn't expect to have to take such drastic measures this season.

"I expect us to be more competitive and be better offensively," Horne said.

With a returning starting quarterback and an overall more experienced team, there's almost no doubt that the Royals will be better. But a big key to their season will be if they can pick up a win or two early in the year. Roy will be in for another long season if it opens the year with results similar to last year.

Some early success, however, would help build the team's confidence.

"We need to get that monkey off our back and get our first win," said Roy tight end Andrew Acosta. "We'll be better than last year. We have high expectations. We're not going to quit like we did last year."

Storey, a senior, should benefit from taking almost every Roy snap last season. He'll also be helped by having a quarterback coach in Phil Durbano.

"He's looking better this summer," Horne said of Storey. "He knows the offense. There are times when I call the wrong formation and he fixes it. He'll have some opportunities to call things on his own."

Storey will also have some weapons to work with in Acosta, running back Jake Trujillo and receiver Brenden Linehan.

It's a big season for Roy, which has been mired in mediocrity for a long time. Horne believes his program is on the road to getting on the right path, although it remains a slow project.

"We're getting there," Horne said. "We're three years into it and it takes a long time to get things turned around in places that have been down for so long. The kids will battle and compete and give us everything they've got. I think if we can get a couple wins early, we'll be fine."

Roy Royals at a glance

Coach: Roger Horne is entering his third season at Roy with a 2-18 record. His health is the best it's been during his head coaching tenure, as he had dealt with chemotherapy treatments while battling cancer in his first two seasons on the job.

Offense

(7 returning starters, multiple offense)

The Royals will be unpredictable on offense, showing a bunch of different looks such as split-back, no-back, shotgun and spread. Quarterback Austin Storey will be responsible for making it all work, and should be able to efficiently execute the offense after starting last season as a junior. Tight end Andrew Acosta will likely be his top target, and running back Jake Trujillo could be one of Region 1's most exciting players.

Defense

(3 returning starters)

The Royals gave up 34.9 points per game last season, and only have three players from that unit returning. But it should help Roy knowing what to expect after battling in Region 1 last season. Brenden Linehan and Braden Gregg will be counted on to lead the way on defense.

Coaches preseason Region 1 straw poll: Ninth

Deseret News Region 1 prediction: Ninth

Bottom line: The Royals will compete better in Region 1 than they did last season. But will that translate to wins in what's top-to-bottom 5A's toughest league? It's tough to pick out a team the Royals can defeat in Region 1, but they're more likely to pull off an upset or two in 2010 than they were last season.

2010 SCHEDULE

Aug. 20 – at Woods Cross, 7 p.m.

Aug. 27 – at Fremont, 7 p.m.

Sept. 3 – BONNEVILLE, 7 p.m.

Sept. 10 – CLEARFIELD, 7 p.m.

Sept. 17 – at Weber, 7 p.m.

Sept. 24 – SYRACUSE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 – at Layton, 7 p.m.

Oct. 8 – NORTHRIDGE, 7 p.m.

Oct. 13 – at Viewmont, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22 – DAVIS, 7 p.m.

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com