Success in sports has many definitions. For some, it's effort. For others, it's a shot at a title. But the ultimate form of success -- perfection -- that's something far more rare.

"This year, we all came back and we realized that there is one goal, and that's to make it all the way, go 10-0, and just be the best team in the state," Loveland junior Isaiah Meyers said.

The Loveland Indians know just how difficult it is to go undefeated in a season. In 2015, the Indians finished as runner-up in the 4A state championship. Last year, they strung together an impressive 9-1 record but missed the playoffs.

"I think we came back stronger, and we fought for our spot and we didn't get it," Meyers said. "We were really bummed out, and we felt like we deserved a chance to play for state."

The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) introduced the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) prior to the start of the 2016-17 school year, to create a more objective process of deciding who makes the high school playoffs.

At the end of the regular season, each team was given a score. The top 16 -- including conference champions -- advanced to the state tournament. Here's how that equation broke down:

  • 25 percent of the score was based on a team's winning percentage
  • 50 percent depended on a team's opponent's winning percentage
  • 25 percent came from that team's opponents' opponents' winning percentage

When the final RPI rankings were first released, Loveland appeared to have squeaked by -- barely. CHSAA later said a mistake had been made. Despite having nine wins and only one loss, Loveland's RPI put them at No. 17. Head coach Wayne McGinn had to break the news to his team that their season was over.

"It was tough. It was probably one of the hardest meetings I've ever had with any team in all my years of coaching," McGinn said. "It was tough because you're telling them, it just didn't work out and didn't go our way. And one game stopped us."

"I think we were all pretty devastated because we worked so hard," junior Michael Deschene said. "With a 9-1 record, you expect to make the playoffs."

The Indians say what was even more devastating was that teams they had beat that year advanced to play in the post season.

"You see teams that have lost three more games than us make it to the playoffs, and the team we beat in the last week make it to the playoffs," Deschene said.

Loveland was not alone. In the 5A classification, Doherty (8-2) and Fossil Ridge (7-3) were left out of the playoff scene, while two teams with 3-7 records (Bear Creek and Fountain-Fort Carson) advanced.

"It made no sense, so hopefully they changed it so it can help us this year," Deschene said.

CHSAA listened, and in January, the RPI equation was tweaked. This year, a team's RPI will weigh more heavily on its own winning percentage instead of its opponents' wins, like last year. The new equation is broken down like this:

  • 37.5 percent of the score is based on the team's winning percentage
  • 37.5 percent depends on a team's opponent's winning percentage
  • 25 percent comes from that team's opponents' opponents' winning percentage

Despite the change, it's hard for some teams not to look back at the past. Under the new RPI format this year, Loveland would've made the 2016 playoffs easy, finishing at No. 6.

Initial 4A RPI Standings

  1. Denver South
  2. Pine Creek
  3. Ponderosa
  4. Chatfield
  5. Broomfield
  6. Pueblo West
  7. Fruita Monument
  8. Windsor
  9. Monarch
  10. Pueblo South
  11. Rampart
  12. Mesa Ridge
  13. Grand Junction Central
  14. Heritage
  15. Greeley West
  16. Vista Ridge
  17. Loveland

What the 2016 RPI Standings would have looked like under the 2017 formula:

  1. Denver South
  2. Pine Creek
  3. Ponderosa
  4. Chatfield
  5. Broomfield
  6. Loveland
  7. Rampart
  8. Pueblo West
  9. Windsor
  10. Monarch
  11. Pueblo South
  12. Fruita Monument
  13. Greeley West
  14. Mesa Ridge
  15. Grand Junction Central
  16. Heritage
  17. Vista Ridge

"We're always going to keep it in the back of our minds, but we're just moving on and we're saying, 'This is a new season, and this is a new team. Let's go do it again,'" Meyers said.

Based on last year's experience, the Indians won't take anything for granted this fall.

"When we didn't make the playoffs last year, a lot of parents and players said, 'Well, at least you still have two more years,'" Meyers said. "But it's not about those two years. It's about those seniors. This is their last season and they don't know if they're going to go out and play anywhere else. So we do it for them."

"Through the experience of last year, every senior is thinking, 'Man, that could happen any year. Don't let it happen,'" McGinn said. "Every game is so important. It could be the game that costs you the playoffs."

This summer, Loveland has been hitting the off-season even more aggressively than before.

"This is my second home, pretty much," senior Kyle Levault said of the weight room. "We're in here every weekday. Even when this isn't open, we're still working out one way or another."

"Kids have really stepped up," Meyers added. "A lot more kids are coming to the workouts now compared to last year. Every wants to make it to state and everyone wants a ring."

Success in sports has many definitions. At Loveland, it's about progress, sweat labor and leaving the past behind.