The Zachary High School boys soccer team is gearing up for the Division I state playoffs and will play its final three regular-season matches with a trip to Monroe this weekend to face Neville, West Monroe and Ouachita Christian.

Broncos coach Scott Delhom’s squad reeled off seven straight district wins before falling to Division I, District 4 leader Denham Springs 3-2 on Jan. 21.

The Broncos wrapped up the season at home against the Yellow Jackets on Monday. Heading into that match, they were 8-1 in district and 12-3-1 overall. They are ranked fifth in The Advocate’s Prep Soccer Top 10.

“Every time we play a district team, we notice that they get stronger and we get stronger as well,” Delhom said. “Denham Springs, Live Oak and Walker are getting stronger each season, and that helps us get stronger as we face more talented players in our district.”

Delhom, who is in his fourth year as Zachary’s head coach, said that what his team may lack in skills, it more than makes up for with determination and style of play.

“My players always play with a lot of heart,” Delhom said. “Where we lack in some skills, we make up in speed and aggression. Our defense is starting to look pretty solid; we also have a very strong midfield, and we have found a way to score goals.”

He said the team’s strength so far has been its defense and midfield, while its major weakness is “we don’t have a lot of ‘club’ players, so it takes a lot of coaching skills to get the players up to speed technically and tactically to work together as a team.”

As far as individual players go, Delhom singles out center defender Benton Wesley as the most consistent player this year. He’s been most surprised by the play of freshman Evan Delhom, his son, who has matched up well with the varsity.

“Evan played club soccer in Baton Rouge, and his skills show on the field,” Delhom said. “He is our defending midfielder and he creates a lot of scoring opportunities for our other midfields and forwards (strikers).”

Delhom has plenty of praise for his seniors Cameron Davidson, Jude Brian, Randy Crosby, T.J. Campbell, Alex Qaddourah and Martin Fontenot.

“They all act as captains when they are on the field, and this year, they really relate better with the underclassmen, and in turn, the underclassmen respect and listen to the seniors,” Delhom said.

The Broncos are hoping for better success in the playoffs, which begin next week. Last year, they were bumped out in the first round by Destrehan. The year before, it was a first-round exit courtesy of Caddo Magnet.

Heading into the playoffs, Delhom said, “We are still working on our overlapping runs with our midfielders and strikers. Some of the players understand the concept and others just couldn’t make it work. We’ve been spending a lot of time at practice drilling on the overlapping runs and possession game.”

O’Connor, Jackson shine in track meet qualifier

Zachary sophomore Janie O’Connor was a double winner in the 60- and 400-meter dashes and ran a leg for the winning 4x200 relay team while teammate Kristian Jackson won the shot put at an LSU Indoor Qualifying meet at the Maddox Field House on Jan. 24. There were no team scores for the meet, which serves as a qualifier for the state indoor meet in February.

O’Connor, who has yet to lose a 400-meter race in her high school career, finished in 59 flat, two seconds off her personal best. She finished in 7.65 seconds to win the 60-meter dash. O’Connor also ran a leg on the 4x200 relay team, which finished in 1:46.35. Jackson won the shot put with a heave of 40 feet even.

The Last Chance Meet on Feb. 7 will give athletes a final opportunity to qualify for the state indoor meet, slated for Feb. 21 at LSU.

Youth baseball registration

Registration for Spring Youth Baseball at Zachary Youth Park, 1650 E. Mount Pleasant Road, begins Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 20.

Registration forms are available at the park from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or you can register online at zachary youthbaseball.com.

Age groups are:

T-ball, ages 4 to 5 (must turn 4 before April 30)

6-year-old coaches pitch

7- to 8-year-old baseball

9- to 10-year-old baseball

11- to 12-year-old baseball

13- to 15-year-old baseball.

Send sports news, photographs and stats to Howard Arceneaux at harceneaux@theadvocate.com.