LOVELAND — This year's group was not your same old punching bag Skyline football team.
This year's Falcons punched back.
On Thursday, the Falcons' revitalized season ended on the road with a 56-33 loss to Mountain View. But having won just two games in each of the past three seasons, the 2016 campaign was undoubtedly a resounding success for the program.
"I played on varsity my sophomore year and a lot of those guys I played with who have graduated since then have come to me and told us they're proud of us and to keep it up and keep doing a good job," Falcons senior Nate Higgins said. "I'm proud of us and what we've done this year. A 7-3 record hasn't been done here in who knows how long and I'll remember that for the rest of my life."
Scoring on an 80-yard bubble screen from Ben Harris and a 16-yard run by Higgins, the Falcons (7-3, 2-3 Northern) led 13-7 after the first quarter of the season finale. But with the offense drying up in the second quarter, the Mountain Lion (5-5, 3-2 Northern) outscored the Falcons 21-0 in the second frame to take a 28-13 lead into the halftime break.
Higgins, who led the Falcons with 140 rushing yards, scored again in the third quarter on a 1-yard run. Kyle West scored on a 56-yard run in the fourth quarter and Moses Rivera scored on a 1-yard dive with 2:59 left. But with the Falcons turning the ball over three times, it wasn't enough to keep pace with the Mountain Lions, who rushed for 463 yards in the game and scored 28 more point after halftime.
Unfortunately for Skyline, even a win wouldn't have gotten the Falcons into the playoffs despite their seven-win campaign.
The Falcons entered Thursday's game slotted 25th in the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index), the new selection criteria for this year's postseason. They also entered having played the 40th toughest strength of schedule out of 42 Class 4A teams. A win over .500 Mountain View, which would have been their eighth on the year, still wouldn't have been enough to vault the Falcons into the top 16.
"Our guys aren't stupid, they knew where we were in the RPI," Falcons head coach Mike Silva said. "It's a hurdle that we shouldn't have had to face, quite frankly. Mountain View is tough enough. I don't know that there's ever been a team in the Northern Conference with seven wins that doesn't go to the playoffs. We probably weren't going to the playoffs, win or lose, but we came out flat and didn't show what we're capable of tonight.
"It was an awesome year for our boys and our seniors started something that we intend to build on. We expect to be even better next year. That's where we are and that's where we're going moving forward."
Mountain View 56, Skyline 33
At Ray Patterson StadiumSkyline 13 0 6 14 — 33
Mountain View 7 21 14 14 — 56
Mountain View — Jeremiah Greylock 3 run (Ivan Thomas kick). Skyline — Kyle West 80 pass from Ben Harris (Nate Higgins kick). Skyline — Nate Higgins 16 run (kick blocked).
Mountain View — Tommy Hochheimer 20 run (Thomas kick). Mountain View — Reid Nichols 17 pass from Peyton Mayes (Thomas kick). Mountain View — Hochheimer 10 run (Thomas kick).
Mountain View — Nichols 55 run (Thomas kick). Skyline — Higgins 1 run (run short). Mountain View — Greylock 14 run (Thomas kick).
Mountain View — Nichols 4 run (Thomas kick). Mountain View — Greylock 27 run (Thomas kick). Skyline — Kyle West 56 run (Jack Wathen pass from Harris). Skyline — Moses Rivera 1 run (run short).
RUSHING — Skyline: Nate Higgins 22-140, Kyle West 4-72, Moses Rivera 8-47, Ben Harris 3-10, Jack Wathen 1-(-2). Mountain View: Tommy Hochheimer 27-235, Reid Nichols 6-99, Jeremiah Greylock 10-85, Erik Lobato Contreras 5-24, Michael Felton 3-14, Hunter Kasdorf 1-8, Wes Evangelista 1-5, Peyton Mayes 1(-7).
PASSING — Skyline: Ben Harris 11-24-1-181. Mountain View: Peyton Mayes 3-6-0-36.
RECEIVING — Skyline: Kyle West 3-91, Jack Wathen 4-57, Caleb Zietlow 2-14, Andrew Dietz 1-11, Braden Kram 1-8. Mountain View: Reid Nichols 2-20, Ivan Thomas 1-16.