The postseason will arrive for some Delaware Hayes High School athletes this week.
The boys golf team will compete in a Division I sectional tournament Tuesday, Oct. 2, at The Players Club at Foxfire and the girls tennis team will play in a Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Hilliard Davidson.
In golf, the top four teams and top four individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
Last season, Delaware finished last in the 14-team Darby Creek sectional and did not have any district qualifiers. Junior Kyle Gabbert, who shot a 102 at sectional last year, is the only returnee from the Pacers' postseason lineup from a year ago.
"As always, our objective is to get the team to the next step," coach Mike Nesselroad said. "If we do not advance as a team, the goal is for one or two of them to shoot a score of 80 or better to give them a chance to advance to district individually."
Delaware has struggled as a team this season, finishing seventh (4-24) in the four-round OCC-Capital Division tournament, behind New Albany (28-0), Mount Vernon (20-8), Olentangy (20-8), Olentangy Orange (18-10), Big Walnut (13-15) and Watkins Memorial (9-19) and ahead of Franklin Heights (0-28).
However, freshman Grant Godfrey had the eighth-lowest scoring average in league play (79.8) to make second-team all-league and was medalist in the third round Sept. 5 at The Players Club with a 76.
"Grant, looking at season averages, certainly has the best chance to advance," Nesselroad said. "He averaged just under 80 for the season."
Gabbert (95.7) was the only other Pacer who played all four rounds of the league tournament to average under 100 strokes.
"We have improved a great deal over the season," Nesselroad said. "During tryouts, we had only five scores under 100 and one player had three of them. Now we are breaking that barrier by four players each tournament or match."
Competing as an individual in the Division I girls golf sectional Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Oakhaven will be freshman C.C. Barger.
"C.C. has been great to coach," Nesselroad said. "All season she has played from the blue markers. In the sectional, she will get to play from the yellow distances. I think she is excited about that. She has also improved a great deal. I will have to give (junior varsity) coach Steve Lehman the credit for the improvement."
In girls tennis, the top four finishers in singles and doubles at sectional advance to the district tournament Oct. 12 and 13 at Davidson.
"Realistically, it's going to be difficult for us to get anyone to the district, but we're going to fight and battle real hard to try to accomplish that," coach Bob Claymier said. "Central Ohio has had a lot of success at state in recent years and that shows that this is a very tough district in our sport.
"Just last year, there were girls from New Albany, Olentangy Orange and Hilliard Bradley to go to state and those were just from our league alone."
Expected to compete at sectional in singles are senior Bri Brown and juniors Blair Ramsey and Claire Brennan. During the regular season, Ramsey played first singles, Brennan was No. 2 singles and Brown was No. 3.
In the first round at sectional, Ramsey will play Teays Valley's Katherine Lawless, Brennan will face Hilliard Darby's Megan Allen and Brown will play Marion-Franklin's Abigail Page.
Seniors Allissa Beard and Audrey Mungovan, who played first doubles during the regular season, will face Groveport's Alexandria Goodwin and Elise Goodwin in the first round of doubles.
The Pacers' other doubles team of juniors Caroline Profitt and Lexus Wolf has a first-round bye and likely will play the fourth seed, Davidson's Chloe Shevlin and Ella Wilson, in the second round.
Last season at sectional, Ramsey was 1-1 in singles and Beard and Brown went 1-1 in doubles.
"All the girls have shown a lot of improvement, especially in confidence," Claymier said. "They are peaking and they have a vision of how they need to play to have success, and they're following it."
Football team getting ready to face Orange
The football team was looking to snap a four-game losing streak when it played New Albany on Sept. 28.
The Pacers, who travel to Olentangy Orange on Friday, Oct. 5, for an OCC-Capital game, fell to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the league with a 35-13 loss to Big Walnut in a game that was suspended Sept. 21 because of lightning and completed the next day.
Orange was 2-3 and 0-2 before playing Mount Vernon on Sept. 28.
"Orange has a really good team and their record isn't indicative of the talent, discipline and toughness they have," coach Zebb Shroeder said.
Delaware and Orange both were averaging 22.6 points per game through five games. Also through five games, the Pacers were allowing an average of 41 points per game and Orange was allowing 30.6.
Orange is led on offense by quarterback Kofi Hill, running backs Mike Forbes and Larry Rode and receiver Triston Richardson. The line is anchored by Cole Snowden and Spencer Wilson.
Among the key players for the Pioneers on defense are Forbes and Jake Lewis at linebacker, Rode, Richardson and Hill in the secondary and Wilson on the line.
"They have a tremendous quarterback," Schroeder said. "They know their offense and they run it fast and well. They mix it up well and make you have to stop the trap, sweep and bootlegs. Defensively, they read their keys well and have good, disciplined tacklers."
Delaware trails the series against Orange 3-1. The Pacers won the inaugural meeting in 2008 (21-7) but have lost the last three: 17-14 in 2009, 49-7 in 2010 and 47-21 last year.
As had been the case in previous weeks, Delaware allowed big plays and had some costly turnovers against Big Walnut.
The Golden Eagles scored on their first play from scrimmage, as running back Christian Johnson ran 64 yards to the end zone. Delaware pulled within 7-6 when quarterback Alex Rafeld threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to running back Taylor Adair.
Trailing 14-6, Delaware had second-and-6 from the Big Walnut 10-yard line when Rafeld was intercepted at the 1 by defensive back Seth Myers, who returned the ball 33 yards. Three plays later, running back Alec Eisnnicher scored on a 56-yard run to complete a 14-point swing and make it 21-6.
The Pacers also missed an opportunity to score after having first-and-goal at the Big Walnut 2. After a holding penalty negated a touchdown, Rafeld was sacked while attempting a third-down pass and fumbled the ball and the Golden Eagles recovered.
"We didn't get points on the board when we were inside their 5, then later that 14-point swing really changed things and gave them momentum," Schroeder said. "Those were the two keys of the game."
Delaware got within 21-13 before halftime as Rafeld connected with wide receiver Jante Wright on a 5-yard scoring pass. Play was suspended at halftime and Big Walnut provided the only two scores of the second half the following day.
"We made some big stops in the second half and had two chances to tie the game, but our offense stalled out and they pulled away after that," Schroeder said. "But I thought Stone Banks-Herrell was tremendous at defensive end. It seemed like he was in on every play and his intensity and leadership got the team excited and we played with passion.
"I also thought our linebackers, Shawn Johnson and Adonis Martin, are starting to figure things out and become very productive. You have to remember how young we are on defense."