Silva's stamp at Skyline
What: Head coach Mike Silva, a Skyline grad, has taken a Falcons team mired in constant struggles and transformed it into a state title contender. Peering a bit closer, here is what the Falcons alum has helped do
Last three seasons under Silva:
Previous 10 seasons:
2015 (Silva's first): 2-8
Last playoff win: 1999 (Made 4A state championship game)
PARKER — The emergent Skyline football team has spent the past several weeks, and really the past several seasons, continuing to surprise and disrupt the prep football scene in Colorado.
In 2017, Skyline football reached the postseason for the first time since 1999. This fall, the Falcons returned to the postseason and won their first playoff game in 19 years.
Last week, the ninth-seeded Falcons knocked off No. 1 Pine Creek and on Saturday, they won 32-0 on the road against No. 5 Ponderosa in the Class 4A state semifinals. Now the Falcons are back in the 4A title game for the first time since that same season in 1999, nearly two decades ago.
Perhaps it's time to stop being surprised by the things the Falcons do.
"We want to make history," Falcons senior tailback Jeremy Hollingsworth said. "We also wanted to show everyone that we're not a joke and it wasn't just a one-game thing with Pine Creek. That's what we did today.
"We came out with the goal to play our best game of the season offensively and defensively, and I feel great because that's exactly what we did. No one is a bad team at this point in the season, obviously, no matter the seed. But our confidence is super high and we had that mentality and we just executed on everything we did."
Hollingsworth, who entered the semifinals second in 4A with 1,556 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns, set the tone early for the Falcons (10-3) in Saturday's game at EchoPark Stadium in Parker. Though the Mustangs (10-3) had allowed an average of 22 points in two previous playoff games, it took only the Falcons' initial two drives for Hollingsworth to reach an even 100 rushing yards and he finished the game with 206 yards on 35 carries.
Sophomore quarterback Chase Silva, who took over as the starter after senior Nate McGregor fractured his ankle in the Falcons' season opener and now leads all of 4A with unofficially 2,703 passing yards, threw touchdown passes to cap each of the Falcons' aforementioned first two drives. He hit senior Jack Wathen, who leads 4A with 12 receiving touchdowns, for a 33-yard score down the sideline for the first and the second was a 2-yard scoring pass to senior Kyle West, who entered Saturday's game with a classification-best 1,273 receiving yards.
Getting a lead early — before wind gusts picked up to 30 miles per hour later in the first half and third-quarter rain turned into snow in the fourth — turned out to be critical. While the weather made offense more challenging, Falcons linebacker Will Drewes saved a touchdown by intercepting a pass on the goal line with 11.3 seconds left in the second quarter and the Falcons led 13-0 at halftime.
"It obviously affected the team that was going into the wind quite a bit more," Falcons head coach Mike Silva said. "So we had to run the ball and we did that early. We got ahead fast, and that was with intention. It turned out to be a huge difference and our defense did a great job to keep a great team off the scoreboard for a whole game."
The Falcons defense averaged 21.5 points against per game in the team's first two playoff games and the lowest remaining seed still alive in the playoffs was bolstered in the semifinals by the return of junior defensive end Austin Robison (6-6, 245), who had been sidelined since breaking his hand against Longmont on Sept. 21.
In the second half, the Falcons defense forced six turnovers on downs. Robison caused two of them in the third quarter, one with a tackle on a fake-punt run and another by knocking down a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage. Hollingsworth scored twice in the second half his second touchdown gave the Falcons a 32-point lead with 5 minutes, 19 seconds left in the game.
"It's been painful to sit out but I'm glad to be back," Robison said. "I love my team and I love my brothers. We played well together as a team, we played our hearts out and I think we deserve this."
Skyline won two games or fewer in eight out of 10 seasons from 2006-15. Now in their fourth year with Silva as head coach, the Falcons have gone 24-9 over the past three seasons. With Saturday's win, the Falcons became the lowest seed to reach the 4A title game since Loveland did it as the 13th seed in 2015.
Skyline will face the No. 2 Loveland Indians (13-0), who won the opposite semifinal 42-0 over No. 6 Montrose, in the championship game next Saturday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Kicking off at 11 a.m., the title game will be a conference rematch from earlier this month when Loveland defeated Skyline, 42-14, in this fall's regular-season finale on Nov. 2 to capture the Longs Peak League title.
"Last time we played them, everyone wasn't healthy and we weren't prepared for what they were bringing," Chase Silva said. "We've got a bunch of our guys back and we'll be more prepared this time. The last three games we've played have been the best we've played all season. If we play like we have been, I think we have a really good chance."
The Skyline football program has won one title in its history, claiming the 3A championship in 1986. A Skyline alumnus, Mike Silva was a ninth-grade junior high student about to enter high school at Skyline the following year in 1987.
Skyline 32, Ponderosa 0
At EchoPark StadiumSkyline (10-3) 13 0 12 7 — 32
Skyline — Jack Wathen 33 pass from Chase Silva (kick missed). Skyline — Kyle West 2 pass from Silva (Gabriel Sosa kick).
Skyline — Jeremy Hollingsworth 9 run (kick blocked). Skyline — Silva 10 run (kick blocked).
Skyline — Hollingsworth 31 run (Sosa kick).
RUSHING — Skyline: Jeremy Hollingsworth 35-206, Kyle West 1-18, Chase Silva 8-10, Wesley Brinkerhoff 3-10; Ponderosa: Koby Kercher 17-42, Dylan Hollowell 5-(-11), Kolton Miller 1-1.
PASSING — Skyline: Chase Silva 6-13-0-55; Ponderosa: Dylan Hollowell 7-23-1-44.
RECEIVING — Skyline: Jack Wathen 3-48, Kyle West 2-12, Nate McGregor 1-0, Jeremy Hollingsworth 1-(-5); Ponderosa: Kolton Miller 2-24, Koby Kercher 2-7, Grahm Kline 1-6, Kayden Johnson 1-6, Ethan Waite 1-1.