They battled and I love 'em and they can hold their head high, because 12-1 isn't a bad year — especially with where we came from. – Roy High coach Fred Fernandes

SALT LAKE CITY — In the days leading up to Friday's 4A championship game, Roy High coach Fred Fernandes fretted that, if his team lost in the state finals, the Royals' tremendous accomplishments this season might soon be forgotten.

Not gonna happen, Coach. Not after winning a school-record 12 games, winning their first region title since 1991, and winning their first state playoff game since 1983.

Indeed, it was a "Season to Remember" for Roy High, and the proud legacy of the 2014 Royals is one that should be safe, secure and lasting for a long, long time.

On Friday night at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Roy dropped a 28-7 decision to a powerhouse Timpview program that took home the state title for the third-straight year, and for the eighth time in 11 seasons.

But the title-game defeat should not be allowed to diminish all that the Royals did accomplish this year.

"They battled and I love 'em and they can hold their head high," Fernandes said following his team's disappointing defeat, "because 12-1 isn't a bad year — especially with where we came from.

"That final loss stings a little bit, especially when you're invested as much as these kids are. It probably wouldn't hurt as bad if we were 3-7 or something, but when you're 12-0 and then you lose, it's a little hard to swallow.

"We'll try to build from here," said Fernandes, a former multisport star for the Royals who took over a long-suffering program four years ago and steadily built it back into a winner again. "This group of kids has been fabulous. I've never been associated with a team this close-knit and prideless, really. They're proud kids but they're not prideful."

A huge crowd that would make any school and community proud came out to cheer on the Royals, just as they have all season long.

"Their support's been there all year long, really, and it's just too bad we couldn't bring it home," Fernandes said. "I really thought we had a shot, and I just feel bad about that."

Roy definitely had a shot in the first half, as the Royals scored the game's first touchdown on a 14-yard TD toss from Tyler Skidmore to Baby Tee Eteuati.

Roy squandered a couple of other first-half scoring opportunities but still led 7-0 at halftime before Timpview turned up its defensive pressure in the second half, limiting the normally high-scoring Roy attack — which averaged around 39 points per game this season — to just 102 total yards and, most importantly, zero points after halftime.

"I wouldn't take anything back — nothing," said Skidmore, the senior quarterback who was a four-year starter for Roy's program. "These guys are my brothers; I love 'em. We're so close. I'm just upset at myself as a quarterback I couldn't have done better.

"I wouldn't trade (this season) for anything. I'd take my teammates over anyone in the state, anyone in the country. I love 'em and I love these coaches. I've been with them for four years now and they've helped me so much. They see the big picture in life — it's not just football, it's more about life — and I just love everybody on this team."

And it's probably safe to say that pretty much everyone in the school and community loves these Royals, too — and won't ever forget them for all they did during this special season.

"Be proud of what you did," Fernandes told his players, many of them in tears, after the game. "Twelve wins has never been done before at Roy. You set the bar."

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com