Scott Wetzel is looking forward to seeing what the Delaware Hayes High School football team can accomplish in his second season as coach.
The Pacers went 6-4 overall this fall to post their first winning season since 2009.
However, Delaware lost three of its final four games and went 2-4 in its final six after opening 4-0. The Pacers, who closed the season Oct. 26 with a 49-0 loss at Hilliard Bradley, finished 10th in Division I, Region 2, two spots shy of the second playoff berth in program history.
"I was happy with our first season together," Wetzel said. "But now the work really begins because this will be the first full offseason and we're going to make sure the kids are working hard, getting in the weight room and doing all of the things that it takes to be successful for next season. I didn't come in here until late April, so we basically just had the summer together.
"I don't know ... how the offseason went before, but I know (the players are) going to bust their tails off to get better now. I expect them to put the work in."
Delaware went 3-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place fifth behind champion Bradley (7-0). In addition to the Jaguars, the Pacers lost to Dublin Scioto (45-31 on Sept. 21), Dublin Jerome (35-21 on Oct. 5) and Hilliard Darby (31-28 on Oct. 19).
Bradley and Darby both qualified for the Division I, Region 3 playoffs.
"Our four losses were to the Hilliards and Dublins in our league and we're going to have to try to make up some ground on them next year," Wetzel said. "But we were right with them entering the fourth quarter in all of those games, except the Bradley game. I wish we could've played them better and finished stronger to go into the offseason with a bit of momentum."
The Pacers are losing 14 seniors, including Warren Clasen (RB), Carter Covert (OL), Mason Davis (TE/LB), Josh Dotson (WR), Gary Harris (DL), Chris Johnson (LB), Sam Lagando (WR), John Lantz (DL), Hayden McManus (LB), Mekhi Smith (DL) and Jordan Wolfel (OL).
Lagando, who had 33 receptions for 414 yards, and Smith, who had 45 tackles, eight for loss and four sacks while missing three games because of injury, were named second-team all-league along with Johnson.
Dotson had 13 catches for 123 yards and Clasen rushed for 217 yards and five touchdowns on 41 carries.
Offensively, Delaware expects to return junior quarterback Blake Eiland, junior running backs Jahi Broussard-Nash and Luke Jackson, junior wide receivers Nabil Abdus-salaam, Laquans Banks-Christian and Colby Cooper and junior linemen Max Bruney, Zach Pokorny and Dylan Seiler.
Eiland was 92-for-152 passing for 1,080 yards with six touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 955 yards and eight scores on 184 carries.
Broussard-Nash rushed for 618 yards and seven touchdowns on 92 carries, but was limited to just nine carries for 36 yards over the final four games after suffering an injury early in the loss to Jerome. Jackson added 313 yards rushing and six touchdowns on 96 carries.
Abdus-salaam had 16 catches for 290 yards and Banks-Christian had 11 receptions for 69 yards.
Eiland was first-team all-league, while Broussard-Nash was special mention all-league and Abdus-salaam was honorable mention.
Expected to return on defense are juniors Addison Harvey and Ethan Hazelton and sophomore Orion Ward in the secondary, juniors Jacob Hunsaker and Sebastian Meehan and sophomore Kaleb Shaw at linebacker and junior Keishawn Mack on the line.
Meehan had 91 tackles, six tackles for loss and two forced fumbles and was first-team all-league, while Harvey had 33.5 tackles and three interceptions.
Also expected back is junior Kyle Klumpp, who was 31-for-31 on extra-point attempts and 5-for-6 on field-goal attempts with a long of 45 yards.
"There is a lot of talent there, so I have guarded optimism," Wetzel said. "There is no magic formula. It comes down to how hard they want to work in the offseason. I don't consider the offseason to be down time unless they're playing another sport. If they are, go be competitive in that sport. We like multi-sport athletes. But if they're not, they need to get better daily and work on football skills."