HILLIARD – If there were a spin to put on the Delaware Hayes football team’s season finale Friday night at Hilliard Bradley – it’s that the Pacers were playing for a spot in the postseason in the final week of the regular season for the first time since 2009.
It would have been the school’s second playoff appearance – the first was in 2008.
The coach of that team, Mike LoParo, was on the other sideline. LoParo’s Jaguars scored four touchdowns on four straight possessions in the first half to run away with a 49-0 win to keep his old school out of the playoffs.
“We didn’t think about (Delaware’s situation),” LoParo said. “Our goal was to get the win, get the OCC outright and then give ourselves the best chance in the playoffs. I have love for Delaware and I respect Coach (Scott) Wetzel and their program and I’m excited to see them get that turned around.”
Hayes seemingly had an opening after Jaguar punter Trey Warner’s knee hit the ground at the Bradley 32.
But, Patrick Day intercepted Hayes quarterback Blake Eiland in the end zone to end the threat.
Bradley’s Jack Richards took over on the ensuing drive, rushing eight times for 50 yards before capping it with a 3-yard run.
Richards scored from a yard out on Bradley’s next possession and quarterback Griffin Veil tossed a pair of touchdown passes to Jack Duffer to blow it open.
“We had to run the ball,” LoParo said. “We had to get that established because of the elements. We needed to establish that anyway because if we establish our run, it opens up our passing game.”
Wetzel was proud of the team’s effort in his first season. The Pacers’ last non-losing season was 2015, so he hopes this season is just the start of more success.
“We had a good season – 6-4 is something to build on,” he said. “We’re trying to build a program and I think this is a good thing to build on. I’m proud of our seniors. The kids fought. It was just one of those nights.”
Richards rushed for 112 yards on 17 carries and four touchdowns for the Jaguars (9-1, 7-0).
Veil went 10-for-17 for 231 yards and two touchdowns with Duffer his top target with five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Bradley’s defense held the Pacers to just 34 yards of total offense, two first downs and forced three turnovers in the first half.
“At least we were in the (playoff) conversation,” Wetzel said. “We’re proud of that. Hopefully, we can build on that. This was a little learning curve that we had tonight. Sometimes you have nights like this and you can learn from it. This was a good year for us and this (game) doesn’t take away from that.”
As for LoParo, he’s creating history at Bradley. The Jaguars locked up the OCC-Cardinal title for the third straight year and a third straight playoff appearance.
Warren Clasen had 58 yards rushing on 13 carries to lead the Pacers (6-4, 3-4).