ROY — Roy High School's football program hasn't had a winning season since 1991. Fred Fernandes, a Roy alum who's had success everywhere he's coached, believes he can turn things around.

Fernandes, a 1979 graduate of Roy, has been hired by principal Gina Butters to be the new head football coach.

"I am excited to go back to my alma mater, to try and get it going there. I feel confident we'll be able to make a difference," said Fernandes. "It might take some time, but I'm willing to put in the time."

Roy's record since 1991 is 39-152, but if anyone is capable of putting the program back on the map, it's Fernandes. In 12 seasons as a head coach at Northridge and Woods Cross, his teams amassed an 87-43 record, including three 5A state titles with Northridge from 2000 to 2002.

"We just felt like with the state of our football program … if we got a guy like Freddy with his name and his credibility, we could get this thing going," said Butters. "It will take some time; we're not na?e. We feel like there's enough community support though. This is a football town. They're just dying for a winner."

Leaving a Woods Cross program that he turned around in four seasons wasn't an easy decision, but returning to his alma mater was something he couldn't pass up.

"It's been my experience, you've got great kids everywhere," Fernandes said. "You just need to get the entire program buying into what you do. It's not a magical formula. Relentless execution of fundamentals and repetition, and buying into a system that's worked at other places. I think it's only a matter of time before kids do that."

Fernandes coached at Northridge from 1996 to 2003, finishing with a 69-23 record. After taking a few years off, Fernandes took over at Woods Cross in 2007. At the time, it seemed like a crazy decision with the Wildcats coming off a 1-8 season, but Fernandes successfully turned the program around.

Following two straight 3-6 campaigns in 2007 and 2008, Fernandes guided Woods Cross to the 4A quarterfinals in 2009 with a 7-4 record and a 5-4 mark this season, including a win over the 4A state champs of Highland. Woods Cross has a bunch of kids returning in 2011, and Fernandes said he's leaving a "really good team."

Fernandes replaces interim coach Ron Koford, an assistant who was thrust into the head coaching role at the start of the season after the sudden termination of Roger Horne.

Fernandes, who was a Deseret News first-team all-state running back in 1978, will begin teaching at Roy on Jan. 18. He'll teach physical education and weightlifting.

e-mail: jedward@desnews.com