LONGMONT -- By Colton Dabney's recollection, it was not long ago that the start of Skyline boys basketball season got few hearts pumping.

The sizable senior's first two years as a Falcon the program won a grand total of five games. As far as a run at a Tri-Valley League title or a berth in the Class 4A state tournament in those days, well, they were little more than daydreams.

How the times have changed.

While Dabney is the first to admit his team -- 9-15 a year ago -- still has a long way to go, he believes the Falcons are set to soar after making the postseason last year.

"We expect to get back to state and go further," he said. "If we don't, it will be a big disappointment. We think we have the talent and work ethic to get there."

Skyline’s Colton Dabney, right, leads the Falcons into the season as they try to build on the progress they made with a nine-win campaign last
Skyline's Colton Dabney, right, leads the Falcons into the season as they try to build on the progress they made with a nine-win campaign last winter. ( JOSHUA BUCK )

State was icing on the cake for Skyline's 2011-2012 season, but for many Falcons the program's turning point came much earlier in the year. Dabney pointed to the Falcons opening their schedule with two wins as boding well for big things in the season. But for coach Michael Peterson, it was actually a loss bolstering his faith in Skyline.

Peterson, now entering his third year leading SHS, knew his system and raised expectations had finally taken hold in Skyline's second meeting with 2010-11 state champion Sterling. The Falcons putting themselves in the position to win against a team of that caliber proved plenty to Peterson. And his faith has only grown since then.

"There is a swagger and a sense of confidence about the team that we never had before last year," the coach said.

Dabney will play a big role in Skyline continuing to build and meet its expectations. The 6-foot, 6-inch post averaged nearly a double-double per outing last season. He finished the year scoring 10.7 points per game and grabbing 9.1 rebounds. But Dabney plans to fill a larger role than just lending his physical prowess to the Falcons.

"I've been starting since my sophomore year, so I'm expected to take a leadership role on the team this season," he said.

While Dabney is happy to do his share, he is quick to point out he won't be alone in shouldering the load. Skyline has three seniors back on the roster, with guard Dustin Mandrell and post Zach Anthony joining Dabney.

"We just have to show that we have the experience to handle pressure situations, show poise and all that," Dabney said.

Peterson believes his upperclassmen have the mental makeup to handle the Falcons' reins. But the coach also believes he has more talent than ever on his rosters. In this category, the coach not only points to his seniors, but also to junior Luciano Quesada.

"He might be one of the most athletic kids in all of the region," said Peterson of the guard. "But I think we could have four kids who could make all-conference (in those players)."

Individual accolades, while welcome, are not what the Falcons are hunting after. The team and its players have their sights set on building a winning tradition at the school.

"We've got more to prove," Quesada said. "And that's only going to make us work harder."

Follow Elwood on Twitter @ElwoodKShelton.