Tag: 2020 father-son

Marquee Matchups: Connor Downie vs. Luke Edwards

DESPITE remaining in the unknown of football’s temporary absence, Draft Central is set to ramp up its draft analysis with another new prospect-focussed series, Marquee Matchups. We take a look at some of the high-end head-to-head battles which look likely to take place should the class of 2020 take the field, comparing pairs of draft hopefuls to help preview who may come out on top.

The next pair under the microscope ironically played together twice last year; for the Australian Under 17 side in April, and in September’s Under 17 Futures showcase fixture. 2020 Eastern Ranges captain Connor Downie and Glenelg’s Luke Edwards are those two players, having progressed through similar journeys despite hailing from different states. Both prospects are also already aligned to AFL clubs, with Downie a Hawthorn Next Generation Academy (NGA) product, and Edwards eligible to nominate as an Adelaide father-son candidate.

Downie was an integral figure in Eastern’s run to last year’s NAB League grand final, proving a reliable and versatile member of the squad. He was also one of the rare bottom-agers to feature for Vic Metro in the 2019 National Championships, running out for his sole appearance against Vic Country to open the carnival. Having played mostly on a wing and off flanks at either end, Downie’s solid build and forward-driving attributes see him poised for more inside midfield minutes throughout 2020.

Edwards is a player in a similar boat, but instead looks to make a return to the engine room having been employed as a rebounding defender in last year’s Under 18 championships for South Australia. Remarkably, Edwards has not put on any height since his Under 16 campaign in 2018, but remains a big-bodied type through midfield at 187cm and 80kg. The son of Crows great, Tyson broke through to SANFL Reserves level for Glenelg as a bottom-ager and may well make the step up to League football as a top-ager when SANFL competitions return in June.

Without further ado, get up to speed with how the two match-up in terms of their form to date, strengths, improvements, and what has already been said about their performances in our scouting notes.

PLAYER PAGES

Connor Downie
Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro

DOB: May 31, 2002

Height: 184cm
Weight: 83kg

Position: Outside midfielder/utility

Luke Edwards
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: January 12, 2002

Height: 187cm
Weight: 80kg

Position: Half-back/inside midfielder

FITNESS TESTING PROFILES

VERTICAL JUMP

Downie – 64cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP (R/L)

Downie – 78cm/63cm

SPEED (20m)

Downie – 3.11 seconds

AGILITY

Downie – 8.48 seconds

ENDURANCE (Yo-yo)

Downie – 20.7

Note: Edwards did not participate in the scheduled South Australian preseason testing day.

Attempting to compare these two athletically via preseason testing data is obviously a fruitless task given Edwards did not participate in South Australia’s combine, but we can still extract something out of Downie’s results. The Victorian’s power off one side shows in the 15cm gap in his running vertical jumps, and he definitely uses that leap to compete in the air, while also boasting a penetrating left foot kick. Downie’s time of 3.11 second across 20 metres is not exactly flattering, but his constant forward movement and overlapping runs to chain handballs better show his ability to gain meterage in quick time. Additionally, a decent agility test time of 8.48 seconds allows Downie to evade opponents and is an area Edwards also thrives in through midfield.

>> PRESEASON TESTING RESULTS:

20m Sprint
Agility Test
Yo-yo Test
Jumps

ON-FIELD PROFILES

2019 STATISTICS

Downie:

NAB League: 14 games | 16.4 disposals | 2.6 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.6 inside 50s |  3.8 rebound 50s | 9 goals

Under 18 National Championships: 1 game | 9 disposals | 4 marks | 2 inside 50s | 2 rebound 50s

Edwards:

SANFL U18s: 8 games | 22.5 disposals | 4.4 marks | 5.8 tackles | 5.1 clearances | 4.6 inside 50s | 1 goal

Under 18 National Championships: 4 games | 18.8 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.75 rebound 50s | 1.5 inside 50s

Downie may have been the slightly more capped player as far as these statistics go, but was able to showcase some of his best traits on the outside. His NAB League average of 16.4 disposals is a decent output for a bottom-ager, but his ability to impact along the line really comes to the fore in his combination of 3.8 rebound 50s and nine goals for the season.

Edwards’ more inside oriented role shines through in his SANFL Under 18 numbers, reflecting a dominant stoppage game going both ways with 5.1 average clearances, 4.6 inside 50s, and 5.8 tackles. His overall disposal output is also greater, and his slightly bigger frame has something to do with that at Under 18 level.

In terms of their National Championships form, Edwards proved his worth as a consistent contributor across all four games, while Downie could only crack one outing in the stacked Vic Metro side. Again, Edwards’ overall output is more significant, but this time in a different role across half-back as he upped his intercept/rebounding game and maintained similar tackling numbers.

It would have been handy to see the pair go at it when Vic Metro met South Australia, but we will have to wait until this year’s carnival – should one go ahead.

BEST GAME

Downie:

2019 NAB League Round 10 vs. GWV

23 disposals (14 kicks)
2 marks
3 clearances
7 inside 50s
2 rebound 50
3 goals

Edwards:

2019 SANFL U18s Round 14 vs. North Adelaide

32 disposals (22 kicks)
7 marks
10 tackles
9 clearances
9 inside 50s
1 goal

You will be hard-pressed to find a more complete midfield game that Edwards’ display in Glenelg’s Round 14 loss to North Adelaide; the prime mover won plenty of his own ball (32 disposals) both at the stoppages (nine clearances) and on the spread (seven marks), while staying relevant defensively (10 tackles) and impacting the play going forward (nine inside 50s, one goal). It is the kind of game which makes you think a permanent midfield move is a no-brainer for Edwards, and shows how far developed he is for his age.

Downie’s chosen game came in as one-sided a game as you’re likely to see, with Eastern holding its opponent to a total of five behinds while piling on 18.8 (116) in tricky Ballarat conditions. Downie was a key exponent of the onslaught, collecting a disposal tally two touches shy of his season-best, while impacting the play up either end and at the stoppages. His three goals were sweeteners, showcasing his penetrating kick from range as well as his underrated overhead marking in the face of a howling breeze.

STRENGTHS

Downie:

Versatility
Leadership
Kick penetration
Efficiency

Edwards:

Versatility
Contested ball
Reading the play
Efficiency

Conveniently enough, the two share a pair of identical strengths. The first listed for either player is versatility, something they will both be itching to further showcase in expanded roles should the action return in 2020. Edwards has gone from playing permanent midfield, to shifting to defence, to now being poised as a midfielder once again. Meanwhile, Downie is a damaging proposition all the way along the line from half-back, to half-forward, and potentially inside the engine room.

The other shared trait here is their efficiency, with Downie a safe bet on his left side, while Edwards is ruthless on his right. Downie seems to have a touch more penetration and loves to go long, but Edwards is a touch more accustomed to finding the best option and hardly making a mistake. Edwards’ disposal efficiency of 90 per cent, albeit with a much lower output, only proves his case as a poised user of the ball. Downie may waver a touch more, but can cut teams up with his metres gained and put the ball in more dangerous areas.

As captain of the Eastern region, Downie also gets a tick for leadership, and he could be in contention for the same honours at representative level given his experience there already.  Edwards’ remaining strengths tie into different roles on-field, with his contested game suited to midfield minutes, while reading of the play comes down to his defensive duties. Edwards’ frame also helps in one-on-one defensive situations too, adding to that intercept and rebound style from the back half.

IMPROVEMENTS

Downie:

Inside craft
Explosive speed

Edwards:

Explosive speed
Contested marking

The two again have similar improvements to make, and are ordered in terms of importance. Downie’s inside craft will need a lift if he is to spend more time at the centre bounces, with his chaining and penetrative style on the outside currently more suited to his skillset. He has the frame and class to make the move, but isn’t quite there off bottom-age form. Part of that will be adding an element of explosive speed, which is not currently reflected in his 3.11-second 20-metre sprint time. He covers the ground well over time, but needs that burst at the stoppages.

Similarly, Edwards has been working on that five-step burst in congestion to get away from would-be tacklers, with the pressure at the next level too much for pure strength to repeatedly handle. He can get away with being caught slightly in traffic against juniors, but will be brought down in those situations upon entering the elite system. Another area Edwards said he would like to work on during preseason is his contested marking, being able to crash packs and be an even more damaging interceptor.

Of course, it is often difficult and perhaps harsh to split hairs when looking for areas of improvement, but even the best prospects have room to grow to become more complete players.

KEY SCOUTING NOTES

Downie:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

Gave a glimpse into his role for next year with a mix of time between his usual wing/half-back position, and in the midfield. Downie’s willingness to get on his bike at every opportunity and move the ball forward was a feature, fitting the metres-gained role well on the outside. He would often dish off on the move and continue his run to get it back, ending his plays with a long kick forward on his customary left side. He may well continue his shift towards a more inside role and has the size to do so, but arguably looked more damaging on the outer as he has done all year.

Edwards:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great poise in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself. His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game. His smart handballs out of congestion were terrific in the second half, especially at centre bounces, and he would benefit from spending more time there.

FINAL WORD

Both of these talents have been highly-touted for a good amount of time, and rightly so. Edwards has the obvious and added pressure of being a father-son prospect identified from a young age, but has performed well in his own right and may even blaze his own trail by nominating for the open draft. Similarly, Downie is already linked to a club but should end up following through with the tie and will cost the Hawks a decent amount of draft points.

Lacking in a couple of athletic areas may see the two slide down the order, but Edwards is one who could be right up there should he stamp his claim as an inside midfielder. Downie’s versatility is a massive plus, as is his impact on the outside. While it would be tempting to see him also grow into an inside role, it seems his best traits fit the wing, or a half-back flank in particular.

AFL Draft Watch: Taj Schofield (WWT Eagles/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at preseason testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the Draft Watch microscope is Woodville-West Torrens prospect Taj Schofield, who is a Port Adelaide father-son candidate given his father, Jarrad‘s 131-game tenure at Alberton. The 178cm midfielder/forward moved over to South Australia last year from the West, joining the Eagles’ program and esteemed Henley High school. The move came on the back of winning All Australian honours for WA at Under-16 level, proving his talent from a young age.

Though he battled foot and ankle niggles throughout last year, Schofield got on the park 11 times for the Eagles – including in their Under 18s Grand Final triumph – while also turning out for Henley. He was also part of the SA Under 18s squad, but did not run out in the tricolours across the 2019 carnival. Schofield capped off the year with a solid showing in the Under-17 All-Stars showcase, grasping the opportunity to play on the hallowed MCG turf on AFL Grand Final day.

The smooth mover has predominantly been used as an outside midfielder or half-forward throughout his junior career, but was thrown into the engine room during preseason trial games to good effect. In building his tank and strength to run with some of the bigger, modern day midfielders, Schofield is looking to find a good balance of inside and outside traits coming into his top-age year.

PLAYER PAGE:

Taj Schofield

Height: 178.4cm
Weight: 72.4kg
Position: Outside midfielder/forward

2019 SANFL U18 STATS: 11 games | 18.1 disposals (12.1 kicks) | 3.2 marks | 4.3 tackles | 2.7 clearances | 2.8 inside 50s | 1.1 rebound 50s | 0.4 goals (4)

Strengths: Smarts, agility, clean hands, disposal efficiency, tackling
Improvements: Consistency, strength/size

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Standing Vertical Jump: 61cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L):
73cm/75cm
Speed (20m): 3.09 seconds
Agility: 8.57 seconds
Endurance (Yo-yo):
20.8

QUOTES FROM PRE-SEASON:

Transitioning from WA to SA… “It’s been good. Obviously Dad got the role at Port Adelaide so we had to move over but all the boys have been really welcoming and it’s really helped my footy. Obviously the SA game-style is a little bit different to WA but it’s really developed my footy as well.”

Dad as a mentor… “He definitely is (an important mentor). He knows what he’s talking about and really helps me out when he can, but he tries to stay out of it a little bit now. But he’s really helped me and is really useful to me as well.”

2020 role… “I think I’ll still roll through the midfield but also play that half-forward and wing position as well, so just changing it up a bit.”

2020 goals… “Probably just small things like making state teams and playing (well) week by week and hopefully the end-goal is to get drafted.”

GET TO KNOW WWT EAGLES’ UNDER 18s

SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Star Game

By: Peter Williams

Was not the biggest ball winner, but after a quiet first half, he had some really nice plays in the second half. He took the game on from half-back and set up an end-to-end passage which lead to a massive Braeden Campbell goal early in the third.

Schofield showed clean hands at ground level and hit the ball at full speed to deliver a pinpoint pass into Saxon Crozier, but rushed a kick shortly after trying to get to James Borlase at half-forward and it was intercepted. Had a highlight play early in the fourth term by spinning out of an opponent’s grasp and producing a neat kick forward.

2018 WAFL Colts Grand Final vs. Swan Districts

By: Lenny Fogliani

The son of Port Adelaide premiership star Jarrad Schofield, Taj was excellent on the wing for the Lions. He collected 19 possessions, took five marks and laid four tackles in a phenomenal performance. Still only 16 years old, Schofield’s decision-making and ball use are extremely sound for someone his age.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. Vic Metro

By: Michael Alvaro

Schofield was one of the more effective midfielders out there with his endless run and ability to get on the end of handball chains. Starting with an effort off half-back, his defensive pressure soon became known as he was again pestering his opponents deep forward, where he almost ended up with a clever dribbled goal.

His forward drive was immense, and there where times where Schofield would be directing his teammates around him with ball in hand as if to coordinate the attack like a quarterback. A clever operator, Schofield already proved to be a crowd favourite.

Q&A: Ewan Macpherson (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we head back to the pre-season where we sat down with a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Michael Alvaro chatted with Northern Knights’ Ewan Macpherson at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me.

Macpherson may have been overlooked for a spot in the 2020 Vic Metro Hub, but remains on the radar as a potential Western Bulldogs father-son selection. He will be looking to follow in the footsteps of his father Stephen and brother Darcy in making the top grade, and has already earned plaudits for his talent having captained Vic Metro at Under 16 level.

That leadership has carried on into his 18th year, with Macpherson set to co-captain his region should the NAB Leaguers get back on the park. The well-built 179cm prospect did plenty of that in 2019, running out 15 times for the Knights and cementing his spot as a small defender with smarts at ground level and sound ball use.

But the Diamond Creek product is now hoping to revert somewhat back to his natural game in his top-age season as a spot in the midfield beckons. A solid showing of endurance (21.3 yo-yo test) at pre-season testing would suggest he is raring to go, with that running capacity something Macpherson has improved on greatly over the off-season to add to his power game.

Q&A:

MA: Ewan, how’s the day been so far?

EM:”It’s been real good. It’s been a real great experience today with all the NAB League clubs coming down to one venue.”

 

Having captained Vic Metro at Under 16 level and nailing a spot down back last year for Northern, what kind of base do you have now for your top-age season?

“It was good because I got to know the format of how we (Northern) want to play and how we’re going to play this year. “I had a bit of a change-up this year, I’m going into the mid. “So that’s going to be good, I’d rather play in the mid than down back so it should be a good year.”

 

What are some of the goals you’re setting now for the year?

“Obviously I want to have a good start to the year and try to get into selection for the Vic Metro Under 18s. “But I don’t really want to set any goals or have any limits to my year, I’ll just do whatever comes forward to me.”

 

You’re in a rare position given your brother (Darcy) and Dad (Stephen) have played at the top level, how have they helped you out?

“They’ve been an unreal help. “Darcy’s always messaging me every weekend just asking how I’m going, how footy’s going and all that. “And Dad, he’s been making me work as hard as I can just to get my body in shape and get ready for the year.”

 

Training at the Bulldogs as well, do you feel a connection to the club?

“Yeah. I went down there for a couple of weeks over the Christmas break to train with them which was a real good experience. “It was good to get around all the boys, they were all real welcoming and it was an unreal experience.”

 

Who are some of the guys you’re looking forward to playing alongside?

“With the Knights obviously Nik Cox and Liam McMahon. “Vic Metro, if I get there, Will Phillips in the midfield, getting in there with him. A few others, Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan), just those kind of boys.”

AFL Draft Watch: Luke Edwards (Glenelg/South Australia)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019.

While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at preseason testing, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is versatile Glenelg product Luke Edwards, who is eligible to be drafted by Adelaide under the father-son rule in 2020 given his father, Tyson‘s 321-game career with the Crows.

One of six Tigers to be named in the South Australian Academy Hub, Edwards is arguably the most credentialed of the lot having already featured at SANFL Reserves level, and in all four of South Australia’s Under 18 fixtures last year as a bottom-ager.

In 2020, the 187cm prospect will be looking to ply his trade more prominently through the engine room, utilising his solid frame and outstanding contested ball work after proving his worth as a rebounding half-back throughout 2019.

A lower back niggle prevented Edwards from completing a full preseason and participating in the fitness testing day, though he will be raring to go should the class of 2020 get back on the park.

PLAYER PAGE:

Luke Edwards

Height: 187.2cm
Weight: 80.7kg
Position: Inside midfielder/half-back

2019 SANFL U18 STATS: 8 games | 22.5 disposals | 4.4 marks | 5.8 tackles | 5.1 clearances | 4.6 inside 50s | 1 goal

2019 U18 NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS STATS: 4 games | 18.8 disposals | 4.3 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.75 rebound 50s | 1.5 inside 50s

Strengths: Versatility, contested ball, reading the play, efficiency
Improvements: Explosive speed, contested marking

QUOTES FROM PRE-SEASON:

Preferred position… “(Midfield) is where I’ll probably be playing mostly through the state champs. But it’s obviously good to be able to be that versatile type of player – go through the mid, down back.

“I enjoy playing through the mid probably more, I find it easier than playing down back so hopefully through the mid a little bit more, find more of the ball which would be good.”

2020 goals… “Hopefully I can play some senior footy, play a couple of League games if that’s before state champs or after state champs. “Obviously I’ve got my older brother (Jackson) who’s come down again so if I could play with him as well that’d be pretty cool.

“And hopefully by the end of the year, get drafted but we’ll just wait and see what happens with that.”

Working on… “Probably just that contested marking if I want to go down back or if I want to go up forward. “Just being able to be that player who can run and crash a few packs like Kaine Baldwin and take some big marks, that’d be pretty cool.”

GET TO KNOW GLENELG’S UNDER 18s

SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Star Game

By: Michael Alvaro

The potential Adelaide father-son has composure beyond his years and looks a versatile type. Starting in his usual half-back role, Edwards showed great poise in his disposal coming out of defence and worked hard to impact the play further afield once he had released the ball himself.

His intercept marking game was also sound, reading the ball well in flight to get in the right position on defensive wing. He is the accumulating type in the backline, but looks a different player once thrown into the midfield with his strong hands and frame allowing him to play that inside game.

Open Schools Cup Grand Final vs. PAC

By: Michael Alvaro

Adelaide fans would want to be keeping the potential father-son’s progress on the down-low, but he keeps on showing good signs of form. Edwards’ quick and clean hands in congestion were outstanding, flicking the ball out effectively to his runners and staying strong through the hips under tackling pressure.

He looked at home through the midfield but also chimed in down back with some rebounding kicks and showed good penetration when going long.

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Allies

By: Michael Alvaro

One of few bottom-agers in the SA squad but was again impressive in spurts. He found a spot in the back six throughout the carnival, but will become a good midfielder in time with his clean hands and strong frame.

Edwards had a shaky moment early with a pretty bad turnover by foot on defensive wing, but would make amends later in the game with some clean gathers off the deck and improved composure inside defensive 50 as the game wore on.

2019 Under 18 Championships vs. Vic Country

By: Craig Byrnes

The son of former Adelaide champion Tyson, Luke is a potential father-son option for next year, but speculation continues to grow that he may opt to nominate for the open draft.

He again found himself behind the ball on Friday, intercepting, rebounding and often starting dangerous scoring chains. He took an excellent intercept mark in the third term which set up a goal for his team at a vital time.

2019 Under 18 National Championships vs. Vic Metro

By: Sophie Taylor

At 187cm he is a good size which allows him to compete strongly one-on-one against the top-aged boys. With 18 disposals, Edwards had no issues finding the football.

He generally used it well, playing across half-back (at times stationing himself in ‘the hole’ in-front of the key forwards) and also in an inside midfield role. Dribbled home a goal in the third term in an attempt to kickstart SA after half-time.