It's been a difficult season for the Delaware Hayes High School boys golf team.

It's been a difficult season for the Delaware Hayes High School boys golf team.

Still, coach Mike Nesselroad hopes the Pacers will not be thinking about the end of the season when they compete in the Division I sectional tournament at Darby Creek on Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Instead, Nesselroad hopes his players will think about the improvements they've made this season - and then he wants them to prove it.

"During (tryout challenges), we had one player shoot in the 90s, with the rest of them over triple digits," Nesselroad said. "Now we've got six guys who are averaging in the 90s. We've made strides, especially considering we are so inexperienced. We lost nine players from last year's team, and we've got only two seniors."

The Pacers will join Thomas Worthington, Worthington Kilbourne and Dublin Scioto in the 9:40-10:20 a.m. tee time and begin on the back nine.

There are five seeds in the sectional - No. 2 Dublin Coffman, No. 7 Hilliard Davidson, No. 10 Olentangy, No. 11 Buckeye Valley and No. 12 Marysville.

The top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the district tournament Oct. 11 at Apple Valley.

"We can only control what we do and we have to use this opportunity to play our best and gain some postseason experience," Nesselroad said. "I've already had four or five kids tell me that they don't just want to participate next season, they want to compete. They're feeling that competitive spirit and that's what we'll need to get us back to where we want to be.

"We need to give these kids every opportunity to compete. They're trying as hard as they can, but golf is a difficult game, especially for kids who haven't played the sport that much."

The Pacers haven't experienced many down times under Nesselroad, who is in his 19th season.

"Delaware has been a very good golf program for a long time and as a coach, you want to keep that going," Nesselroad said. "We're going to have to do some things to get better. The good news is that we've started to set a foundation with their improvement and their willingness to work, and I'm hoping that carries over because you can't come in here in the fall after playing just a couple rounds all summer."

The team averaged 197 for nine holes early, but lowered that to 172. Nesselroad said junior Kody Brookens and sophomore Brandon Brown have led the way.

"If they shoot well at sectional, they could realistically be around 82 to 84," Nesselroad said. "As a team, we got better, but that's not good enough. We didn't have any player shoot a round in the 70s all year and we finished seventh in the (OCC-Capital Division). So it's just hard to feel good about it right now. Maybe next year we can have a better season and look back to see how the progress began this year. Maybe then it'll feel better."

•The football team began to spread some offensive wealth in a 24-13 win over host Mount Vernon on Sept. 23.

Opponents have tried to slow the passing game of quarterbacks Josh Bender and Alex Rafeld by creating defensive pressure and double-teaming and overplaying 6-foot-5 receiver Matt Bingaya.

Through five weeks, in which Delaware was 3-2 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Capital, Bingaya led the district in receptions (36), receiving yards (512) and receiving touchdowns (11).

Bender was 47-for-77 passing for 586 yards and six touchdowns. Rafeld was 30-for-46 for 400 yards and seven touchdowns.

Against the Yellow Jackets, the Pacers got better play on the offensive line, and that helped the running game. Junior Taylor Adair had 105 yards on 19 carries for the Pacers' first 100-yard rushing game this season.

"Taylor Adair ran hard and gave us a strong rushing threat," coach Zebb Schroeder said. "Taylor isn't real big, but boy did he run hard. I'm happy and proud of him because he didn't miss any offseason workouts and his work ethic is paying off."

Another plus was that Bender and Rafeld didn't force throws to Bingaya.

Ethan Nichol was the beneficiary and contributed a few big plays. He had three catches for 69 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown that gave Delaware a 14-6 lead and a 26-yarder to set up an 11-yard touchdown reception by Bingaya on the next play for a 21-6 lead.

"We needed another receiver to step up and alleviate pressure from the double teams Matt Bingaya is facing and Ethan certainly did that," Schroeder said. "Between him stepping up and Taylor's running, we're giving defenses other things to worry about other than Bingaya."

Sophomore defensive back Caleb Howell made two interceptions.

"We started to get more people making plays on both sides of the football and that's a good thing because that's what we'll need to be successful," Schroeder said. "It looks like we're starting to put things together. Now we've got to build on that."

The Pacers, who played Wat-kins Memorial on Sept. 30, will play host to Big Walnut on Friday, Oct. 7. Delaware will be out to avenge a 15-0 loss last season.

The Golden Eagles were 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the league before playing Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 30. They were coming off a 35-34 win over Olentangy Orange on Sept. 24 at Ohio Wesleyan.