WE ARE a month into the APS and AGSV school boy Victorian football competitions and Matt Balmer delves deeper into which prospects have started well in the school season.
The old saying that “If you’re good enough, recruiters will find you, no matter where you play” rings true in the Victoria school football competition where players such as Jayden Hunt (Melbourne) and Oliver Hanrahan (Hawthorn) have been plucked out of the school boy competition without playing TAC Cup. As Hunt’s 27-game career has shown, it is not the be all & end all if players aren’t selected in the pathways as we once knew it.
Down at Brighton, their APS ‘four-peat’ premiership tilt appears over after a few losses to start the season with coach Robert Shaw fielding a much younger squad than previous years. They do have one for the future – with state Under 15 and Year 9 boy Darby Hipwell a standout early in the season. Sandringham Dragons midfielder Alfie Jarnestrom tied for their best and fairest alongside Andrew McGrath in 2016 and has again taken it up another notch, with 36 disposals in their loss against Haileybury using the ball well on his left foot. 2018 North Melbourne father-son prospect Joel Crocker has been utilised at both ends, showing glimpses in his bottom-age year. On the weekend against Geelong Grammar, the grandson of Don Williams (Melbourne Hall of Famer), Seb Williams returned from concussion with 40 plus disposals in one of the better performances from a Brighton Grammar School captain, against a midfield with likely first round selections Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien. Victorian Under 19 cricketer Nathan Murphy had recruiters working the phones over the weekend, leaving them stunned with a seven-goal haul at centre half forward and he may be another with a tough decision on his hands.
Scotch’s Will Sutherland has been the leading ‘icon’ of the multi-talented sportsplayers this season, with the tall starring up forward throughout the start of the APS season. It does look more and more likely that football may be the destination for the Australian Under 19 cricketer at the end of the season, with AFL Victoria keen to push him into the Vic Metro squad for the Under 18 Championships. Noah Croes is another good cricketer who won Scotch’s best and fairest as a Year 11 and has caught the eye with his good ball use and run & carry. Joel Garner has used his clean hands well at the contest and continues to put his hand up as a possible first round selection. Hawthorn fans have a name to keep an eye on with Under 16 Vic Metro’s Finn Maginness in the number 33 as one of their best to start the season as a Year 10 – hitting the scoreboard up forward.
Carey Grammar have been the surprise packet starting the season without a loss. They are playing their big ground well out at Bulleen, with Ed Richards the leader of their run from defence. Richards has often taken the kick outs, speeding off past his opponents and working down one of the wings. Charlie Thompson‘s ball winning has been important, ensuring that Carey are getting first hands on the ball despite coming up against stronger midfielders. Recruiters took note of Tom Jepson‘s tagging job of Wesley’s Adam Cerra in Round two, rendering him largely influential for the entire day.
Despite his quiet game against Carey, Cerra has been one of Wesley’s best and shown why he is capable of contending for the number one selection with his good ball use on his right foot ringing true. He wins the ball at the centre bounces and is smart at the stoppages – making him a tough tagging candidate as he was able to get off the chain against Haileybury as Wesley’s clear best. Adam Collinson impressed for the Oakleigh Chargers and has carried that into the APS season through the midfield. 188cm medium tall Charlie Dean is a name for the future, selected in the Vic Metro Under 16 preliminary squad.
At the ‘Snakepit,’ St Kevin’s continue to show consistency in their teams from year to year. Lachlan Fogarty goes about his job in the midfield, despite missing the game against Melbourne Grammar with concussion. Fogarty was one of their best in the win against Brighton, winning the ball in the contest. Western Bulldogs father-son prospect Rhylee West continues to crack in hard, while Year 10 boy Jack Mahony has been the surprise packet with the Vic Metro Under 16 player a star in their Round one win over Geelong Grammar. Ethan Phillips has been defending well, using his athletic ability to shut down the oppositions best tall.
Out at Keysborough, Haileybury on paper has one of the strongest APS teams in a long time, with names such as Luke Davies-Uniacke, Oscar Clavarino and the King twins – they are the clear favourites for the premiership. Andrew Brayshaw continues to play a strong role in the midfield, winning plenty of the football while Charlie Constable uses his smarts rotating through the midfield from across half back.
— Matt Balmer (@MattBalmer7) May 1, 2017
Davies-Uniacke has only dropped below 30 disposals once for the ‘Bloods’, with his 32 disposal and six-goal performance against Brighton simply amazing. Clavarino has been able to intercept mark the ball with ease in the defensive 50, dropping off his man and his ball use by foot has been solid. Despite brother Max being out with a knee injury – Ben King looks better with each game he plays up forward, booting seven goals against Xavier on Saturday. His contested marking was on show and his move forward has shown his versatility for the natural defender. Liam Stocker has looked good across half back, while athletic Jackson Ross continues to put his hand up as a draft smokey with glimpses of outstanding play as a centre half forward and on the wing.
Despite Clavarino’s strong start to the season, Carlton 2018 father-son prospect Ben Silvagni was able to get on top of him booting three goals for Xavier in their clash Saturday. Charlie Whitehead has started the season well and put in a gutsy tagging effort on Davies-Uniacke, while Anthony Zimmerman is using his goal smarts and speed up forward. Changkuoth Jiath (CJ) has been exciting through the midfield and up forward and is playing some great football.
Caulfield are another school undefeated, with Vic Metro midfielders Dylan Moore (30 disposals, three goals against Scotch) and Trent Mynott dominating at the start of the season putting their hand up for possible draft calculations. The pair tackle hard and win the ball in at the clearances. Angus Styles is showing his poise, with 30 disposals in their big win against Scotch – while captain Lachlan Harris had a huge third quarter effort for the ‘Fields’. Will Kennedy is giving their midfielders first use of the ball winning the ruck, with Isaac Morrisby providing a big target up forward.
Out at Flack Park, Charlie Spargo has got the ball on a string for Melbourne. His performance against St Kevin’s College will go down as one of the best individual games many have seen – kicking three goals and having a big amount of the ball. Hybrid defender Harry Bede is marking well overhead and is another name to keep an eye on, with a similar pedigree to Hawthorn 2016 draftee Oliver Hanrahan from a cricket background. Sam Cameron has also played some impressive football as one of their better starters to the season. MGS also possess a younger Dunkley and Goddard amongst their ranks.
Down the highway, Geelong College have had a quiet start to the season. Ed McHenry impressed in the Vic Country trials and has been one of their best, showing his elite endurance running hard all game. Jack Henderson has won plenty of football in the midfield and was best on ground in their loss to Caulfield.
Arch-rivals Geelong Grammar are the surprise packet – with few tipping them to contend for the premiership. Their lack of depth has affected them, but they boast likely draftees Jarrod Brander, Brent Daniels, Paddy Dow and Lochie O’Brien. Brander returned from a knee injury on Saturday – that he suffered in round one to boot a bag of goals up forward. Daniels goes in hard for a small, while Dow has used his burst from the midfield to hit the scoreboard with five goals against St Kevin’s. O’Brien was tagged out of the game on Saturday, but is a classy ball user on the wing.
Over the in AGSV competition, Marcellin and Mentone sit undefeated on top. While neither school boasts a likely high draftee – their depth is very good.
Alex Federico is Marcellin’s best draft prospect and was very good against PEGS. Federico is composed with ball in hand and plays his best football across half back. Patrik Della Rocca is a bottom-age forward who impressed last year for Marcellin and has continued that into this year – including booting three goals on Saturday for the Northern Knights.
Mentone ruckman Joel Amartey is continuing to get better with each game he plays and was good in the first half against Assumption. Tom Yorgey and Ed Newman are using the ball well across half back, setting up the play. Victorian Under 19 cricketer Newman may be another to forge to the football pathway, should clubs come calling. Kai Owens is finding the ball through the midfield, while Hawthorn father-son prospect Devlin Brereton is showing good signs.
Mitch Lewis was drafted out of Assumption last year to the Hawks and they boast eight players on TAC Cup lists this year. Their most talented tall Joel Naylor can play at either end, while Shane Skidmore was super impressive at last year’s Under 16 Championships for Vic Metro.
Anthony Larkey is one of Trinity’s best – but they have struggled so far this season, as have Camberwell – while Peninsula have a good crop of Dandenong Stingrays players on their list with Jai Taylor and Will Antonie two names to keep an eye on.
1stXVIII footy is underway at ACK pic.twitter.com/Ejfiyty0US
— ACK Sport (@ack_sport) April 22, 2017
Ryley Stoddart fought hard for Yarra Valley in their big loss to Ivanhoe. Stoddart is a classy ball user across the wing or half back and took an outstanding contested mark in the opening quarter before slotting the goal. He was moved onto the damaging Patrick Naish in the second half, keeping him to just two goals in a vallient effort as one of their clear best players. Stoddart did come off late with cramp in his calf, but should be commended for his strong efforts on Naish.
Patrick Naish’s seven-goal haul was simply outstanding for Ivanhoe and had Richmond recruiters watching on with a grin on their face. He booted three in the opening quarter, turning the game on it’s head. He attended a good chunk of centre bounces, before resting deep out of the goal square and was a marking target with his great leap on show – keeping the big crowd entertained despite “Roo” being another target up forward. Max Dreher was another who played a strong game for Ivanhoe in the midfield and through defence, winning the contests and disposing of the ball well. Xavier Naish is another father-son prospect for Richmond in 2019 – playing on the wing and kicking two goals on Friday.
PEGS have the top prospect from the AGSV with Cameron Rayner showing off his contested marking and power in the midfield. Whilst he was quieter against Marcellin, winning a lot more unconstesed possessions than normal – he makes a meal of the poor teams in the competition. He doesn’t have a huge tank, but he can do some special things in short bursts that can change the game. Curtis Taylor has been injured, but was a star last season as Year 11 boy up forward.