The Delaware Hayes High School football team was trying to extend its season when it closed the regular season Oct. 26 at Hilliard Bradley.
Through nine games, the Pacers were 10th in Division I, Region 2, two spots out of a playoff berth. According to joeeitel.com, they needed to beat the Jaguars and get outside help to reach the postseason.
The playoffs begin Friday, Nov. 2.
Delaware fell to 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 31-28 loss to Hilliard Darby on Oct. 19. That same night, Bradley beat Worthington Kilbourne 48-10 to improve to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the league.
The Jaguars already had clinched at least a share of their third consecutive OCC-Cardinal championship. A win over Delaware would have given them their second outright league title in a row.
Regardless of the outcome against Bradley, the Pacers have earned their first winning season since finishing 6-4 in 2009. They were seeking their second playoff appearance, with the first coming in 2008 when they finished 7-4.
"We met before the season and we all agreed that it would be a nice accomplishment to win five games after going 4-6 last year and 3-7 the year before," senior receiver Sam Lagando said. "We had a new coach (Scott Wetzel) with new schemes and we thought five wins would be great.
"We've got six (wins) now and we need a seventh. We want to be greedy and keep playing because we've had so much fun this year. It's been a special season and we just don't want it to end."
Against Darby, Lagando had three catches for 37 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown from quarterback Blake Eiland in the final minute.
The Pacers were averaging 17.9 points through nine games after averaging 9.5 last year.
"Last year, our defense was on the field a lot," senior defensive back Mason Davis said. "Our offense was turning the ball over too much last year, but they've done much better (this season). The offensive line is close and Blake is more mature running the offense."
Davis and Lagando are the team's captains and said the symbiosis between the offense and defense, as well as strong leadership that has pulled the individual classes closer, have been keys to the team's success.
"We are more focused as a team and everyone is holding everyone else accountable," Davis said. "As seniors, we have respected and encouraged the juniors and sophomores. All of us seniors bought in to the new schemes and the other classes followed. Nobody misses practices now or goofs around at practices. Coach Wetzel believes in quicker, more focused practices and it has worked."
Lagando said the thread that has held everything together has been the coaches.
"They bring the energy and winning attitude to practice every day and we have to match that," he said. "It trickled down to us as captains and to the senior class from the meetings we had with them before the season. We just tried to pass it along and make things run smooth."
Davis thinks this is just the beginning.
"We're just building the foundation as seniors," he said. "They'll be very good next season with everyone they have coming back. Hopefully, they'll just continue to pass it down every year."
Girls volleyball team reaches district semi
The 15th-seeded girls volleyball team defeated 37th-seeded Mount Vernon 25-18, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 18 at home to improve to 16-8.
The Pacers played fourth-seeded Olentangy Orange in a district semifinal Oct. 25 at Whitehall, with the winner playing seventh-seeded Grove City or 13th-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district final Oct. 27 at Whitehall.
The district champion plays Olentangy, Watterson, Dublin Jerome or Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal Thursday, Nov. 1, at Worthington Kilbourne. The regional final is Saturday, Nov. 3, at Kilbourne.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Nov. 9 at Wright State.
Against Mount Vernon, Sydney Krewson had 20 kills and 16 digs, Becca Rocassin had 11 kills and 15 assists, Hadlee Bruns had nine kills and Anna Johnson had 24 assists and 12 digs.
Cross country teams conclude season
The cross country teams concluded their season in the Division I district meet Oct. 20 at Hilliard Darby.
The girls team placed 13th (369 points) of 16 teams in the district 2 race, behind champion Granville (34), as the top six teams and top 24 individuals advanced to the regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
Freshman Miranda Gemberling finished 56th of 113 runners in 21 minutes, 36.2 seconds to lead the Pacers. She was followed by sophomore Leila Bouziri (70th, 22:03.6), junior Allison Miller (77th, 22:33), freshman Kailyn Smith (81st, 22:54.5), senior Mallory Bibler (86th, 23:17.2) and sophomore Jordan Rutherford (99th, 25:18.5).
Sophomore Lauren English did not compete at district after earning second-team all-league honors by placing 12th (20:06.5) of 75 runners in the OCC-Cardinal meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Davidson.
The boys team finished 20th (545) of 21 teams in the district 3 race, behind champion Pickerington North (55).
Sophomore Padraig Mumper led the Pacers, placing 94th (18:48.1) of 147 runners. He was followed by freshman Sebastian Stewart (98th, 18:50.9), senior Avery Latta (100th, 18:51.7), freshman Juan Tello (122nd, 19:25), sophomore Eric Stewart (131st, 19:49.7), sophomore Gary Weckerly (139th, 20:29.3) and junior Eric Puthoff (140th, 20:39.5).
Boys soccer team losing nine seniors
The boys soccer team will need to replace a large senior class next season.
The Pacers concluded this season with a 6-0 loss at top-seeded Olentangy Liberty in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 20 to finish 7-8-3.
Seeded 23rd, Delaware defeated 41st-seeded Whetstone 3-0 in a first-round home game Oct. 17.
The Pacers are losing nine seniors in Chase Cudia (midfielder), Max Draper (forward), David Gray (defender), Brennan Lovett (defender), Jacob Marsch (midfielder), Davidka McCammon (goalkeeper), Colin McGrail (defender), Arvand Ossoli (midfielder) and Matt Thompson (defender).
Among the expected returnees are the team's leading scorers in junior midfielders Briggy Kannally and Kyle Klumpp.
Also eligible to return are juniors Derrick Brooks (defender), Brian Frisch (forward), Dylan Kiefer (midfielder) and Kyle Martinez (defender).
Girls soccer team gained experience
The girls soccer team finished 5-8-5 after losing 6-0 at eighth-seeded New Albany in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 18.
The 27th-seeded Pacers beat 32nd-seeded Logan 6-1 in a first-round home game Oct. 15.
Delaware is losing six seniors in Rachel Borden (midfielder), Sydney Breese (midfielder), Grace Miller (forward), McKenna Miller (goalie), Maya Morita (forward) and Emma Vessels (forward).
Among the expected return-ees are juniors Savanna Deibert (defender), Sydney McMillin (forward), Monica Taglione (defender), Abby Weller (goalie) and Payje Wilson (forward/def-ender), sophomores Maddy Green (forward), Alyssa Griner (forward), McKenzie Hayes (midfielder), K.J. Hudson (goalie) and Marissa Lovett (forward) and freshmen Maddie Blair (midfielder), Ava Bruns (midfielder), Hannah Halstead (defender), Hayli Marsch (defender) and Taylor McMillin (forward/defender).
Sydney McMillin and Griner both missed much of the season with ACL injuries.