The Delaware Hayes football team will be looking to continue its dominance over Buckeye Valley when it plays host to the Barons in the season opener Friday, Aug. 30.
The Pacers have won seven consecutive games against Buckeye Valley and 15 of the last 17 meetings, including a 24-7 win at Ohio Wesleyan in last year's opener. The Barons last beat Delaware 38-32 in double overtime in 2011.
"Delaware had an outstanding season last year and I'm sure they want to build upon that," said sixth-year Barons coach Matt Stephens, whose team finished 5-5 last season. "They're a bigger school with some big bodies and some skill guys that we're worried about. For our kids, this is their biggest game of the year and we'll bring our A game and hope it's enough."
Second-year Delaware coach Scott Wetzel has been on both sides of the rivalry, having coached Buckeye Valley for five seasons from 1992-96.
"It's a great game to be a part of, without a doubt," said Wetzel, whose team finished 6-4 last season. "Some schools don't have real rivalries. This is a true backyard rivalry. There's a lot at stake in terms of bragging rights. It's always a great atmosphere.
"I've been on both sides now and I know how important this game is to Buckeye Valley. They will play hard. They always give you their all. We've got to match that from the opening kick."
Stephens is concerned about his team's depth this season, as the Barons' roster dropped from 60 players last season to 45 during two-a-days earlier this month.
"We don't have many guys with Friday night experience," Stephens said. "We're going to have a lot of two-way players. It's going to be Ironman football out there. You don't have the luxury of getting to the sideline, correcting mistakes or getting a breather while the other unit takes the field."
Among the possible two-way starters for Buckeye Valley are seniors Andy Anthony (QB/DB), Chris Conner (OL/DL), Nick Fein (OL/DL), Ed Reely (OL/DL) and Joe Smothers (OL/DL), junior Andre Ash (RB/LB) and sophomores Anthony Hughes (WR/DB) and Christian Karnofel (OL/DL).
Delaware has an experienced offense that includes quarterback Blake Eiland, running backs Jahi Broussard-Nash and Luke Jackson, receivers Laquans Banks-Christian and Colby Cooper, tight end Nabil Abdus-salaam and linemen Max Bruney, Zach Pokorny and Dylan Seiler.
Key players on the Pacers' defense include Everett Beach and Keyshawn Mack up front, Jacob Hunsaker, Sebastian Meehan and Kaleb Shaw at linebacker and Addison Harvey, Ethan Hazelton and Orion Ward in the secondary.
Seniors to lead boys soccer team
The boys soccer team is hoping its nine seniors will help it regain its winning form.
The Pacers finished 7-8-3 overall, including 2-4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division, last season after going 8-5-4 in 2017.
Among the key returnees is senior midfielder Briggy Kannally, who earned first-team all-league and second-team all-district honors a year ago.
"Briggy is a fourth-year letterwinner who we expect to have a tremendous senior season after making a big impression last season with 21 goals," second-year coach Robb Morgan said. "His work rate, athletic ability and technical skills make him a game-changer at various positions."
Senior defender/midfielder Kyle Klumpp was named second-team all-league last season and senior defender Kyle Martinez was special mention all-league.
"Kyle is coming off an offseason hampered by an injury that caused him to see little time during the preseason," Morgan said. "Kyle's soccer IQ is as high as anyone in the OCC and his strong decision-making will be a key to our success."
Seniors Noah Smith and Jake Koch will start at forward in the Pacers' 3-5-2 formation. Others in the midfield are juniors Brady Day and Brian Wallace, sophomores Dylan Ashworth and Abdul Kawa and freshman Peyton Fowler.
Defensively, seniors Derrick Brooks and Dylan Kiefer will join Martinez in front of senior goalkeeper Sam DeLong.
Completing the roster are senior Colin Ashworth (goalie) and sophomore Chris DeRosa (goalie).
Delaware opened Aug. 16 with a 1-0 win over Buckeye Valley behind a goal by Fowler and one save by DeLong. The Pacers then beat Fairbanks 1-0 on Aug. 20 as Kannally scored on a penalty kick and the Panthers were held without a shot on goal.
Delaware will play host to Hilliard Darby in its league opener Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Girls soccer team returns nine starters
Having returned 14 letterwinners, including nine starters, the girls soccer team believes it can improve on last season when it finished 5-8-5 overall and 1-5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"We've got several players who can play multiple positions and we've got good team speed with strong veteran leadership," fifth-year coach Bradd Smiley said. "We are returning everyone up top, our entire back line and our goalkeeper."
Senior forwards Sydney McMillin and Payje Wilson are fourth-year letterwinners and will be supported at the position by juniors Alyssa Griner and Marissa Lovett in the Pacers' 4-3-3 formation. Wilson was special mention all-league last season.
McMillin and Griner both missed much of last season with injuries.
In the midfield, junior McKenzie Hayes returns and will be joined in the starting lineup by sophomore Taylor McMillin and either sophomore Ava Bruns, freshman Sara Dudley or freshman Aubrey Griner.
Defensively, seniors Savanna Deibert and Monica Taglione, junior Maddy Green and sophomore Hannah Halstead have returned and will be supported by sophomore Hayli Marsch. Halstead was second-team all-league a year ago.
Senior Abby Weller returns in goal after earning first-team all-league honors last season.
Completing the roster are senior Payton Day (forward), juniors Liza Ida (defender), K.J. Hudson (goalie) and Addie Salvador (defender) and freshman Rebekah Blair (defender).
The Pacers opened Aug. 16 by defeating Buckeye Valley 5-0 and lost to Watterson 3-0 on Aug. 19. Against the Barons, Alyssa Griner had three goals and Lovett and Sydney McMillin each scored one.
Delaware opens league play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Darby.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 31 – Granville Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Aug. 28 – OCC-Cardinal at Darby Creek
Aug. 31 – Pickerington North Invitational at Pine Hill
Aug. 27 – Watterson at Oakhaven
Aug. 28 – OCC-Cardinal at Royal American
Aug. 29 – Gahanna and Olentangy Berlin at Bent Tree
*Aug. 27 – Home vs. Hilliard Darby
Aug. 29 – At Whitehall
*Aug. 27 – At Hilliard Darby
Aug. 29 – Home vs. Westerville North
Aug. 26 – At Big Walnut
*Aug. 27 – Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 28 – Home vs. DeSales
*Aug. 29 – At Worthington Kilbourne
*Aug. 27 – At Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 29 – Home vs. Hilliard Bradley