The Delaware Hayes High School football team is seeking its first winning season since 2009 and the only way to get there is to remain focused.
The Pacers, who were 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Capital Division before playing Mount Vernon on Oct. 18, travel to Franklin Heights on Friday, Oct. 26, before closing the regular season Nov. 1 at home against Olentangy.
"I know these seniors want to finish strong and I don't think they're going to allow this team to just go through the motions," coach Zebb Schroeder said. "They have pride and it really shouldn't matter who we're playing.
"One of our goals was to play meaningful games in October and we're doing that. If we can beat (Mount Vernon) and Franklin Heights, it would make week 10 real interesting."
Franklin Heights was 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Capital before playing Olentangy Orange on Oct. 18. The Falcons had lost four in a row before facing the Pioneers, including a 49-16 loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 11.
"Franklin Heights has some good athletes and they always seem to play us well," Schroeder said. "We won 25-0 last year, but it was a tight ballgame at halftime. We've got to prepare for them like anyone else and we have to execute better than we did against Orange."
Delaware beat Orange 17-14 in a league game Oct. 11. The Pioneers were 0-7 and 0-4 before playing Franklin Heights.
"We allowed Orange to stay in the game with a bunch of mistakes, but it was good to see us fight through it and get another win under our belts," Schroeder said. "We had a strong opening drive but had to settle for a (24-yard field goal by Joseph Sanfillipo). We turned the ball over on our next three possessions, one of them at the (Orange) 5-yard line.
"Later, we scored what would've been touchdowns on three consecutive plays but had a penalty each time. Then we missed a field goal. We let Orange stick around and they got pumped up and we really had to work to get a win."
Against Orange, Caleb Howell, who plays slotback and safety, rushed for 124 yards, scored on an 83-yard fumble return and had an interception.
"Caleb ran 67 yards on a reverse and had a 50-yard run that sealed the victory, but he made the play of the game on defense," Schroeder said. "(Orange) was attempting a field goal and the holder bobbled the ball and tried to scramble away. Caleb stripped the ball from him and returned it for a touchdown."
Quarterback Jante Wright scored the Pacers' other touchdown against the Pioneers on a 53-yard run that gave the Pacers a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.
"I was proud of the way Jante played in the second half," Schroeder said.
"He made some big plays after he struggled in the first half. He threw his first interception of the season and also fumbled. But when he found that gap (on the touchdown run), nobody was going to catch him."
Outside linebacker Ethan Tucky had eight tackles, including two sacks and four other tackles for loss.
"(Tucky) played his best game yet and that says something because he's had a special year," Schroeder said. "I also thought Gaige Linville played well on the offensive and defensive line. James Wegmiller had a good game at defensive end and we got typical strong performances from (center/linebacker) Shawn Johnson and (fullback/linebacker) Ernest Bonsu."
Season ends for volleyball team
Seeded 42nd, the girls volleyball team lost at sixth-seeded Westerville Central 25-11, 25-5, 25-12 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 15.
The Pacers finished 2-20 overall and went 2-12 in the OCC-Capital to finish seventh, behind co-champions Kilbourne and Olentangy (both 12-2), Big Walnut and New Albany (both 10-4), Mount Vernon (5-9) and Orange (5-9) and ahead of Franklin Heights (0-14).
Delaware loses three seniors Jen Foreman (libero), Krysta Iwanek (outside hitter) and Kaitlyn Woerner (outside hitter).
"They were great leaders, although they were surrounded by young, inexperienced girls," coach Josh Lee said. "But they did a great job."
Among the expected returnees are juniors Tiarra Avant (middle hitter), Hannah Cook (setter), Ciarah McAnelly (middle hitter) and Mariah Swisher (opposite hitter) and sophomores Karli Reed (opposite hitter), Claire Turner (back-row specialist) and Macie Wright (back-row specialist).
"Swisher made great strides, as did Reed, and Cook did a good job in her first year as a varsity setter," Lee said. "Wright and Turner were good role players as sophomores and will be better next year.
"Having two potential middles back with Avant and McAnelly is cause for excitement. However, we recently learned that McAnelly may be moving. We hope that's not the case because both middles grew significantly."
Girls soccer team loses tourney opener
The girls soccer team lost to ninth-seeded host Thomas Worthington 6-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 15.
Senior midfielder Hannah Bartfay scored for the 30th-seeded Pacers, who finished 4-11-2 overall.
The loss ended a challenging season for Delaware, which started 1-7. The Pacers were shut out five times and held to one goal in five games. They were outscored 41-35 on the season, but they scored 24 of their goals in four lopsided victories and 11 in their other 13 games.
Delaware loses four seniors in Bartfay, midfielder Aly Smiley, forward Brooke Zinader and midfielder/goalkeeper Taryn Sweeney.
Among those expected to return junior Hannah Joseph, sophomore Melanie Anderson and freshmen Emily Mathias and Ashley Smiley on defense, juniors Gretchen Bowling, Anna Welch and Rachel Yates and sophomore Helen Thomson in the midfield, junior Sydnee Buckley at forward and freshman Chloe Vessels in goal.
Delaware finished 2-4-1 in the OCC-Capital to tie Big Walnut for fifth, behind Orange (6-0), New Albany (4-2), Kilbourne (4-2) and Olentangy (3-2-1) and ahead of Mount Vernon (0-5-1). Franklin Heights did not play a full league schedule.
Boys soccer team falls to Blue Devils
The boys soccer team lost to 27th-seeded Zanesville 1-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16 at home to finish 6-11.
Doug Welker scored for Zanesville in the first 12 minutes and Blue Devils goalie Eric Walker had 21 saves.
Goalie Ian Alger had seven saves for the Pacers, who were seeded 26th.
Delaware controlled play after the first 15 minutes, according to coach Nate Weakland.
"It's frustrating to play in games like these where you feel you definitely had the better of play, but you just fail to put a few (shots) in the net," Weakland said. "We hit a couple of posts, including a header by (sweeper) Bryan Neitzelt. (Walker) made some great saves off our free kicks and corners, just tipping several over the bar.
"I feel like this is one of the best games we've played all season and we have nothing to show for it, except a 1-0 loss. I thought (midfielders) Mitchell Lucas and Nathan Lippincott did a terrific job running our offense. We just needed a bounce here or there and didn't get it."
Cross country teams begin postseason
The cross country teams competed in the Division I, district 2 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial.
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 26 at Pickerington North. The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional advance to the state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
Delaware competed in the OCC-Capital meet Oct. 12 at Pickerington Central.
Alicia Rittenour led the girls team, which placed fourth (113) behind New Albany (29), Kilbourne (38) and Olentangy (62) and ahead of Orange (144), Big Walnut (173) and Mount Vernon (189). Franklin Heights did not have a team score.
Rittenour placed 10th in 21 minutes, 30.69 seconds. Also scoring were Sammi Piroska (21st, 22:11.87), Emily Richards (22:36.55), Courtney White (30th, 22:42.03) and Alyssa Wheeler (33rd, 22:50.54).
The boys team finished sixth (150) in the league meet, behind New Albany (27), Olentangy (48), Orange (68), Kilbourne (123) and Mount Vernon (141) and ahead of Big Walnut (197) and Franklin Heights (227).
Jason Watkins led the Pacers, finishing 10th (17:09.33). Also scoring were Justin Hernan (21st, 18:09.65), Corbin Binkley (46th, 19:23.7), Weston Lingo (49th, 19:36.5) and Sid Campbell (50th, 19:40.08).