LONGMONT — For the final three games of the 2015 football season, Ben Harris got a taste of what it's like to play the sport's premier position.
Now a senior, Harris will have the job from Day 1 of this year's campaign. Along with the glory of playing quarterback comes the task of leading the Skyline football team as the Falcons try to get over the two-win hump.
Others have tried. For the past three years, they have all failed. Harris, though, thinks this year could be different.
"We have a senior class that's really looking to lead the younger guys and we've got a lot of talented underclassmen," Harris said. "We're actually believing in ourselves and we expect to execute better, play up-tempo and faster. We have a lot of guys who can make big plays so it's just my job to get the ball out to those guys so they can do what they do."
The Falcons have won just two games in each of the past three seasons. That has left them with a frustrating 6-23 overall record and without a conference victory since 2012. It's been since 2000 that the Falcons made the postseason, according to second-year head coach Mike Silva.
But during last season, Silva's first at the helm, the players said there seemed to be a feeling that the Falcons were building towards a revival.
"Compared to last year, we've got some new players that have really brought us together," senior tight end Hunter Gutierrez said. "We believe in ourselves more than we ever have. Practices have been more productive and the coaches have been able to give us more stuff. We're starting to understand the game of football and we've sacrificed our whole summer just to get better.
"We've put in the work and we feel like we're playoff bound this year."
Making the playoffs is the main goal, both in the near and long term, but before the Falcons can start thinking postseason, they'll focus on hosting Golden in Week 1.
"If I had to sum it up, I would say that we're changing the culture in a positive direction," Silva said. "We've got a bunch of returners who have been in our system for a few years and we plan to go out there play to win in every game. We want to be playing in meaningful games at the end that allow us to get into the playoffs."
COACH: Mike Silva (2nd year, 2-8).
LAST YEAR: 2-8, 0-5 in Class 4A Northern League.
RETURNING STARTERS: Malakai Almarez (Jr., LB, 6-0 195); Ricky Childers (So., N, 6-1, 255); Braden Cram (Sr., WR/CB, 5-10, 165); Diego Gallardo (Jr., G, 5-10, 220); Marc Gurrero (Sr., LB, 6-0, 185); Hunter Gutierrez (Sr., WR/DE, 6-4, 202); Ben Harris (Sr., QB, 6-0, 180); Nate Higgins (Sr., 5-11, RB/OLB, 170); Alex Ortiz (Jr., LB, 5-10, 215); Connor Smith (Jr., T, 6-2, 210); Jared Svensson (Jr., C, 5-10, 220); Jack Wathen (So., WR/OLB, 5-10, 165); Caleb Zietlow (Sr., WR/CB, 5-9, 165).
OTHERS TO WATCH: Tristan Balfour (Jr., CB, 6-0, 170); Nick Groulx (Sr., LB/RB, 5-11, 165); Ben Hall (Sr., S, 5-9, 155); Moses Rivera (Jr., RB, 5-10, 170); Austin Robison (Fr., DE/TE, 6-4, 225); Kyle West (So., WR/OLB, 5-9, 155).
STRENGTHS: Along with their solid group of returning starters, the Falcons believe their greatest strength to be their team speed.
WEAKNESS: While the Falcons figure to be improved at nearly every position, one thing they do not have is depth.
Sept. 2 — GOLDEN, 7 p.m.
Sept. 10 — CORONADO, 1 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Thornton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 — GRAND JUNCTION, 1 p.m.
Sept. 30 — at Niwot, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — MONARCH*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Greeley Central*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 22 — at Fort Collins*, 11 a.m.
Oct. 27 — WINDSOR*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 3 — at Mountain View*, 7 p.m.
Note: Home games upper case and at Everly-Montgomery Field.
*Asterisk denotes 4A Northern opponents.