The Delaware Hayes High School football team anticipates a better season next year after playing mostly underclassmen this season.
The Pacers finished 3-7 overall and went 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place sixth, behind Hilliard Bradley (6-0), Dublin Jerome (5-1), Hilliard Darby (4-2), Dublin Scioto (3-3) and Worthington Kilbourne (2-4) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (0-6).
"We will be returning many players who have a great deal of talent and, with hard work, I honestly see some real improvement in the future," coach Mike Golden said. "Our j.v. team went 7-3 despite moving eight sophomores and a freshman up to starting varsity positions. That is proof that Hayes will be successful in the near future."
The Pacers beat Buckeye Valley 21-17 on Aug. 25 to open the season. They also defeated Washington Court House 38-8 on Sept. 15 and Thomas 21-17 on Oct. 13.
Delaware is losing 14 seniors, led by Ryan Daughenbaugh (WR/DB), Braden Donges (OL/DL), Blaine McCormick (RB/DB), Isaiah Moore (SB), Josiah Naegele (LB), Glenn Pauley (OL/DL), Zach Ruen (K), Kole Shaw (OL/DL) and Todd Toney (TE/DL).
"Our seniors worked hard in the classroom, weight room and on the field," assistant coach Justin Malivuk said. "They were able to beat their rival (Buckeye Valley) and win their homecoming game (against Washington Court House)."
McCormick had 77 carries for 369 yards, 13 receptions for 135 yards and scored four touchdowns. Moore added 140 yards on 46 carries, 157 yards on 15 receptions and four touchdowns, and Toney had six catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Pauley was the Pacers' defensive leader and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district in Division I on defense. Donges was second-team all-league, Moore made special mention all-league and Toney was honorable mention all-league.
"Our seniors showed great character and great work ethic throughout the year, which made them a real joy to work with and be around," Golden said.
Among the expected returnees are juniors Kael Gannon (QB/DB), Mason Davis (TE/DB) and Sam Lagando (WR/LB), sophomores Laquans Banks-Christian (RB/DB), Jahi Broussard-Nash (RB/DB) and Ben Conahan (RB/LB) and freshman Blake Eiland (QB).
Eiland was 54-for-102 passing for 616 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 385 yards and four touchdowns on 105 carries. Lagando had 15 receptions for 235 yards.
"We need to have a great offseason in the weight room," Malivuk said. "On the field, we need to continue to develop our O-line and run the ball and protect the quarterback more effectively. Defensively, we need to continue to develop the fundamentals of tackling.
"We had a lot of young players get varsity playing time and that experience will be a positive moving into next season. We are very excited. Their experience this season will help tremendously moving forward. We played up to four sophomores on the O-line at times this year and had a freshman start eight games at quarterback."