Where do you rate?
Here's a look at where BoCo area teams finished in the RPI last season. Top 16 made the postseason.
11. Legacy, 8-2, 0.583236
13. Fairview, 8-2, 0.541767
34. Boulder, 1-9, 0.417063
5. Broomfield, 8-2, 0.582671
9. Monarch, 7-3, 0.564630
26. Skyline, 7-3, 0.459605
34. Niwot, 3-7, 0.408290
5. Silver Creek, 10-0, 0.648626
7. Longmont, 6-4, 0.626418
9. Holy Family, 8-2, 0.614958
11. Mead, 7-3, 0.591955
16. Erie, 6-4, 0.542596
28. Centaurus, 4-6, 0.492026
38. Frederick, 1-9, 0.414849
27. Prospect Ridge Academy, 1-8, 0.435089
33. Nederland, 4-3, 0.426666
40. Lyons, 3-6, 0.369110
21. Justice, 5-3, 0.493344
29. Longmont Christian, 1-7, 0.380
LONGMONT — The 2016 season saw the Skyline football team win seven games, which was far and away the program's most successful campaign in over a decade.
Under the newly-developed Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) system for postseason qualification, however, the Falcons were left on the outside looking in despite their 7-3 record. They ended the season 26th in the standings, with the top 16 teams earning postseason berths. Twelve of the 25 teams ahead of them finished with fewer wins than the Falcons had.
Skyline's last winning season prior to 2016 was in 2000 and their last postseason appearance was in 1999, so not qualifying for the postseason at the end of their breakthrough season was utterly deflating. The Falcons were understandably confused and disappointed by the result. Those feelings still have not dissipated and the team is embracing last year's frustration with the singular goal of not having to experience it two years in a row.
"We're all pretty (upset) about last year," Falcons junior Jack Wathen said. "But we're really confident that we can come back and do better and make the playoffs this year. We're all just having fun and trying to get better, but that's something that's going to fuel us all year long."
Starting this season, the football RPI formula - (0.375 x team's winning percentage) + (0.375 x opponents' winning percentage) + (0.25 x opponents' opponents' winning percentage) - has been altered to account for its perceived shortcomings in 2016. Under the new system, which assigns a greater value directly to teams' accomplishments and lessens the contribution made by strength of schedule factors, the Falcons feel they are more likely to be rewarded with a playoff spot should they find a way to recapture last season's success.
With last year's team placing a postseason berth back into the realm of possibility for the Falcons, the 2017 roster will feature a combination of speed, skill and experience that the Falcons haven't had in some time. Wathen, Kyle West and Moses Rivera ran on the school-record setting 400- and 800-meter relay teams that competed nationally this summer and are all playing football this season, as is newcomer tailback Jeremy Hollingsworth (900 yards, 10 touchdowns last season) who transferred from Niwot.
Returning up front for a team that averaged 33.4 points per game in 2016, the Falcons have their entire offensive line back and figuring to be better than before. This unit will include 6-foot-4, 255-pound left tackle Connor Smith, Diego Gallardo and Jarod Svensson, and will be coached by Russ Miller, whose son Isaac Miller is a Silver Creek graduate that has a good chance to start at tackle for the University of Colorado this season.
"Last year we had two sophomores and three juniors and this year we're just all a lot bigger," Smith said. "We really just expect to dominate and that's our goal for the season. We have some amazing guys and some dynamic playmakers coming back and we expect to put up some points."
Smith said he knew last season could be special when one of the first plays of the year, a slant pass, went for 80 yards. With that in mind, the Falcons will be looking for a similarly strong start when they open the season at Golden on Aug. 31.
Difficult swings between elation and then devastation marked Skyline's 2016 season, one the Falcons felt ended earlier than it should have. But having hardened and grown from the experience, the Falcons have reason to believe the 2017 campaign can be different.
"There's nothing you can do about it," Falcons head coach Michael Silva said. "We were disappointed and the only lesson learned was that you have to play each game and we didn't do a great job of that last year. We kind of knew that even if we went 8-2, there's no way we would have made it in. It was probably the only time a 7-3 team from the Northern Conference didn't make the playoffs, but we're coming back to play with the kind of intensity and physicality to make sure that whatever happens at the end of the season we'll be happy with what we did."