Tag: Andrew McGrath

Analysis | The importance of fitness testing in modern football recruiting

THERE has been plenty of debate when talking about potential AFL prospects pertaining to the differences between judging ‘athletes’ against ‘pure footballers’. There is an argument that fitness testing should be taken with a grain of salt and that the eye test is most important, but when it comes to players being drafted – especially in the first round – prospects are often at the pointy end in at least one fitness test.

For anyone still unfamiliar with the main fitness tests conducted during preseason and at the AFL Draft Combine, they are as follows:

  • Agility Test
  • 20m Sprint
  • Standing and Running Vertical Leap
  • Yo-Yo Test
  • 2km Time Trial

Last year’s number one pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan excelled in the 20m sprint and vertical leap tests, with his on-field speed off the mark and jump at the ball highlighting just why he excelled at those tests. The combine, if anything, gives reassurance that those traits are indeed elite and will help try and separate talents like Ugle-Hagan from any other key forwards in that year’s crop. Athleticism is very important in modern football, with players quicker and bigger than what most talented youngsters are used to at the development levels. One club which has seemingly identified this in modern times is the fast-rising Essendon Football Club.

Since 2014, Essendon seems to have had a clear strategy with the types of players they have looked at with their high picks. Below is a list of the Bombers’ top 40 selections since 2014 and which tests those players excelled at. In a lot of cases, they were top 10 in those tests at the end-of-year combine.

2014:

Pick 17 – Jayden Laverde
(Didn’t test but athleticism was a highlight of his game)

Pick 20 – Kyle Langford
Agility

2015:

Pick 5 – Darcy Parish
Average in most tests

Pick 6 – Aaron Francis
(Didn’t test but like Laverde, athleticism was a highlight in games)

Pick 29 – Alex Morgan (Since delisted)
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 30 – Mason Redman
3km time trial

2016:

Pick 1 – Andrew McGrath
Vertical Leap, Agility

Pick 20 – Jordan Ridley
20m Sprint

2017:

Nil

2018:

Pick 38 – Irving Mosquito
Vertical Leap

2019:

Pick 30 – Harrison Jones
Vertical Leap, Yo-Yo, 20m Sprint

Pick 38 – Nick Bryan
Vertical Leap, 20m Sprint

2020:

Pick 8 – Nik Cox
20m Sprint, 2km TT

Pick 9 – Archie Perkins
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

Pick 10 – Zach Reid
Vertical Leap

Pick 39 – Josh Eyre
20m Sprint, Vertical Leap

There is one big outlier here and that’s one of this year’s Brownlow contenders in Darcy Parish, who was only average in test results during his draft year. This could be seen as the biggest clue as to why athletic testing shouldn’t be so important, but it can also be argued that one of the main reasons for Parish’s form is due to improving his running capacity to an elite level.

Even their most recent mid-season selection, Sam Durham tested well for vertical leap and endurance, so its no surprise at least in Essendon’s case that athletic traits are a huge influence in whether the player gets taken. The current favourite for the Rising Star, Nik Cox has taken the competition by storm with his mix of athleticism and height, with that height another factor in the early Essendon selections. It was a matter of time before Cox got his nomination for the Rising Star award and in retrospect, we should have all seen his selection by Essendon coming considering all the traits he possesses are key indicators in the Bombers’ recent draft strategy.

Using this history, we can even try to narrow down the possible field of players that Essendon will look at with its first round pick in 2021. A trio of Sandringham Dragons instantly come to mind with Campbell Chesser, Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan. All three players tested well for the 20m sprint and vertical leap during preseason, highlighting their power and athleticism. With all measuring at over 185cm, they even fill a midfield need for the Bombers. They have another prospect right under their noses in Josh Goater who made his Essendon VFL debut not long ago and is an athletic beast. His speed and leap tests were all elite and at 190cm, he would be another Essendon style selection.

The modern footballer is taller, faster and can run all day, and it is getting harder and harder for pure footballers to make it at the top level. If young, pure footballers can start to develop athleticism in their game, even if it’s an elite endurance base, that’s at least a start in the right direction.

Height used to be a detractor for clubs but now with the likes of Caleb Daniel, Kysaiah Pickett, Brent Daniels and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, that is no longer the same obstacle for potential draftees as it used to be – though you also need to have that speed and class. If you are small and have the athletic traits and determination to make it as an AFL player, then you will be on the right track. If you are tall and have those traits, your chances of making an AFL list are even higher.

Fitness testing is an important tool, not just for clubs and recruiters, but also for up and coming players – especially those at the very early level. I’m hopeful coaches of junior football are able to set up some of these tests to help young players find their best traits, enhance them and embrace them. Understandably, it takes time, money and effort on their part and not every junior club or parent has that available. Programs such as Rookie Me, the official fitness testing partner of the AFL, allow junior athletes to experience professional environments at an early age, proving another handy head-start for budding footballers.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Sandringham Dragons vs. Glenelg Tigers

OUR next All-Star Team battle is between a Victorian region in the Sandringham Dragons, and a South Australian club in the Glenelg Tigers. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Chris Judd (Sandringham) and Stephen Kernahan (Glenelg).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded eighth (Sandringham) and ninth (Glenelg) respectively, forming another Round of 16 clash in our draw. It is our closest matchup yet, with just one place separating the two sides. The winner will qualify for the quarter finals, set to face top seed East Fremantle.

STRENGTHS:

Needless to say as we enter the top 10 realm, both of these sides boast a bunch of high-end AFL talent across each line. Sandringham lays claim to one of the best midfields of the lot, led by Judd who is supported by the likes of Josh Kennedy and Luke Ball, while Jobe Watson is pushed out to a wing alongside Zac Merrett. That’s not to mention Andrew McGrath at half-back and Josh Kelly at half-forward, with Tim Taranto and Angus Brayshaw also waiting in the wings. Scary depth.

Glenelg’s defence is arguably its best line, with the versatile Rod Jameson lining up at full back and Chad Cornes in front of him, while former Carlton greats Andrew McKay and Bryce Gibbs line up at half-back. Ironically, McKay’s daughter Abbie, and son Charlie have both recently come through the Sandringham program. Andrew Mackie is also a key part of the back six, which is rounded out by Tom Logan.

WEAKNESSES:

Both teams are a touch undersized at full back, though both players would arguably fare no worse as super competitors. Jason Blake (189cm) takes up the role for Sandringham, while Jameson (185cm) is Glenelg’s man. Apart from that factor, finding weaknesses is like splitting hairs.

SUMMARY:

It is a tight one, but Sandringham is hard to look past here. There is some serious firepower on both sides, but with such a deep midfield a forwardline to match the Bays, and greater bench depth, it is the Dragons who we feel come out on top.

Which All-Star Team would you pick?
Sandringham Dragons
Glenelg Tigers

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Sandringham Dragons vs. East Perth Royals

OUR next All-Star Team battle is one between a Victorian club and West Australian club, in Sandringham Dragons and East Perth. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were Chris Judd (Sandringham Dragons) and Dean Cox (East Perth).

TEAMS:

These clubs are seeded eighth (Sandringham Dragons) and 25th (East Perth) and is the last battle of the first round featuring a side anticipated to make it through to the quarter finals.

STRENGTHS:

Sandringham is another side with talent all across the park, particularly in the midfield area. The onball group of Max Gawn, Judd, Luke Ball and Josh P. Kennedy is as elite as it comes, and that’s before you look to the wings in Jobe Watson and Zac Merrett, and then the depth of Josh Kelly, Tim Taranto and Angus Brayshaw. The half-backs in Brayden Maynard and Andrew McGrath provide great run, while Tom Hawkins is a terrific target to have leading out inside 50. A very hard team to beat in the middle, so will get plenty of scoring opportunities.

East Perth has plenty of height around the ground, with Ross Glendinning and Craig Starcevich no doubt stretching the Sandringham defence. The team is probably too tall for its own good, but has a really strong midfield itself, with Cox one of the few rucks who could beat Gawn if they went head-to-head at their best. Joel Corey and Mitch Duncan are great players through the midfield, while they would work over the Dragons with their height and rucks including Matt Leuenberger and Alex Ischenko.

WEAKNESSES:

The Dragons are a little down when it comes to key position defenders, with Ted Richards a great warrior, and Jason Blake a solid best 22 type for more than 200 games, but neither would be declared in the elite category. They have enough talent in the defensive end to ensure the ball gets out of there, but that, along with perhaps another specialist forward would improve the team.

The Royals just do not have the depth, particularly in the mediums and smalls. Outside of their obvious standout players, they lack a little up either end, and the bench drops off. They would stretch the Dragons in the air, but would struggle once the ball hit the deck, particularly in attack.

SUMMARY

Sandringham would be tipped to take the match out, just too strong across the park with arguably the best midfield in this series for depth and quality.

Which All-Star Team are you picking to win?
Sandringham Dragons
East Perth Royals
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Classic Contests: Dragons down Rebels with final term turnaround

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in our series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 18 clashes in the NAB League this year between the Sandringham Dragons and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, when both sides were cemented in the top eight, the Rebels were called North Ballarat, and the Dragons managed to snatch four points on the road.

2016 TAC Cup, Round 11
Saturday June 25, 1:00pm
Mars Stadium

NORTH BALLARAT REBELS 7.0 | 9.1 | 11.3 | 13.5 (83)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.1 | 4.2 | 9.6 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:

North Ballarat: J. Johnston 7, S. Beks 2, I. Johnson, J. Jones, J. Harrison, M. Scales
Sandringham:
J. Trew 4, W. Walker 2, H. Burt, K. Beveridge, C. Larkin, H. Mclean, L. Harris, A. Sakeson, I. Morrisby

BEST:

North Ballarat: J. Johnston, C. Wellings, J. Wheelahan, J. McQueen, C. Cox, N. McRoberts
Sandringham:
J. Trew, A. Sakeson, R. Hayward, K. Nissenbaum, T. Maloney, H. Burt

Draftees in action:

North Ballarat: Cedric Cox, Jamaine Jones, Flynn Appleby
Sandringham: Will Walker, Hayden McLean

The Sandringham Dragons and GWV Rebels have not faced each other since May in 2017, but produced a captivating contest just a year prior to that at Mars Stadium. Both sides boasted stacked squads and were firmly entrenched in the finals race. While they met amid the early fixturing of that year’s Under 18 National Championships, the two regions had enough depth to put on a quality showing.

Playing at home, the Rebels came in at 6-4, enough to put them in sixth spot. They had just come off a loss to the Geelong Falcons after winning six games in a row. The Dragons were six points clear at 7-2-1 to slot into third place, and looked to be turning back into some form with consecutive wins which followed two-straight losses. North Ballarat would be without the likes of Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage, with Sandringham had to go without Tim Taranto, Will Setterfield, Andrew McGrath, and Oliver Florent, among others.

It meant the Rebels were able to get the early jump, storming out of the blocks with seven-straight goals to Sandringham’s two in the opening term. The 29-point lead held at the first break remained exactly the same at half time as either side added two majors to their tallies, but the hosts looked rather comfortable out in front.

That comfort wouldn’t remain for too much longer, though. After the two teams went goal-for-goal across the first 15 minutes of the third term, Sandringham piled on three unanswered majors late in the piece to bring the margin back to within two goals. That same momentum carried on into the final period of play, as North Ballarat could not quite hold on in the face of the Dragons’ scoreboard pressure. The visitors would sneak over the line by four points in a remarkable late turnaround.

A couple of big goal hauls headlined the effort on either side, with North Ballarat’s Jordan Johnston booting seven, while Sandringham’s Josh Trew managed four. North Melbourne draftee Will Walker snared two majors, while Cat-turned-Eagle Jamaine Jones also found the big sticks, and Cedric Cox was named among the Rebels’ best players. Cal Wellings was terrific with 32 disposals, and Ari Sakeson pushed his case with 18 disposals, seven marks, and a goal.

The two regions went on to swap ladder positions come the end of the regular season, with North Ballarat jumping to third (12-5), while Sandringham slid to fifth (11-5-1). It mattered little for the Dragons, who claimed the 2016 TAC Cup premiership and had seven players go in the National Draft – including five in the first 11 picks. North Ballarat bowed out to Oakleigh in the semi finals, and had six players drafted from its squad that year.

Draft Central All-Star Team: Sandringham Dragons

SANDRINGHAM Dragons have had no shortage of elite talents making their way into the AFL through the AFL Draft, with the last two decades being particularly fruitful. Led by captain, Chris Judd who was voted the All-Star Player of the AFL Draft era by you, the public, on our Instagram channel, the Dragons are certainly one of the stronger sides running around.

THE TEAM:

Sandringham Dragons only have half a dozen players who debut in the 1990s, with the majority of their talent coming in the 2000s, starting with the famous 2001 AFL Draft. With two of the top three from that year in Judd and Luke Ball, the Dragons have since become a powerhouse when it comes to churning out top-end draftees thanks to the close association with the private school system, similar to Oakleigh Chargers. Their midfield is elite, and they have plenty of scoring options up forward, and run out of defence.

DEFENCE:

The Dragons’ defence is well balanced with two negating talls in Ted Richards and Jason Blake, a third tall in Tom Langdon, and three players able to rotate between midfield and defence. Richards player 261 games and earned All-Australian honours, while Blake was as reliable as they came, though became famous for the longest stint without a Brownlow vote at one stage. Langdon has had his injury concerns of late, but at his best he slots into this side, originally drafted as an overager.

In terms of their medium types, former Blue and Hawk, Simon Beaumont is in the back pocket, though he could push up the ground as well. Current players Brayden Maynard and Andrew McGrath are others who could push into the midfield, but their dare, run and carry has been superb, with Maynard in All-Australian form and McGrath quickly becoming one of the best young talents in the AFL. Off the bench, Taylor Hunt and Christian Salem could both slot in, with McGrath’s Rising Star award the difference there.

MIDFIELD:

Nothing short of an elite midfield, almost a dozen players could have a case to slot in here. In the end, we opted for consistency over the years, led by captain Judd who is the clear standout player with two Brownlows, six All-Australians, two Most Valuable Players (MVP)s, five best and fairests and a Norm Smith. Ball slots into the rover position because while he had his injuries over the journey, at his best he was a war horse and a crucial cog in some terrific St Kilda and Collingwood teams. Also on the ball is Josh P Kennedy who has won three All-Australians, three best and fairests and been in the All-Australian 40-player squad a further three times in 250 games.

The obvious choice for ruck was big Max Gawn who has become an elite player in the last half decade, winning three All-Australians and two best and fairests. On the wings are a couple of Essendon talents in Jobe Watson and Zac Merrett, with Watson having numerous accolades including a Brownlow, two All-Australians and three best and fairests. Merrett has an All-Australian and two best and fairests to his name. It would have been just as easy to name Josh Kelly or Tim Taranto in the midfield, but went for more experience, while Salem and Jarryd Lyons are others on the bench who could have filled that void.

FORWARD:

In the front six, modern day forwards Tom Hawkins and Jack Gunston slot in as the keys, after three All-Australians, a best and fairest, five All-Australian squad nominations, and five premierships between them. Rotating as another tall in there is the often-maligned but incredibly talented Jack Watts, with Geelong and Hawthorn forward Aaron Lord in the other pocket.

Kelly is at half-forward an area he could easily play, while Adelaide’s Tom Lynch makes it onto the other flank after almost 200 goals in his 140-odd games. Justin Murphy and Simon Garlick are two players who could play through the midfield or up forward that have been named on the bench, with so many rotating midfield options making it tough to decide on a starting team.

DEPTH:

Picking the bench was as difficult as any task, because you had to weigh up past contributions against the modern contributors. Matthew Robbins (146 games) and Stephen Powell (142) were the two players with the most games who missed out, while other talls in Danny Jacobs, Tyrone Vickery and Chris Dawes provide some good depth in the key position stocks. The next in line ruck was Robert Warnock (88 games), while Angus Brayshaw (80 games) and Ed Langdon (68) could well have deserved places in the team already, but will no doubt squeeze into there over time.

Classic Contests: Dragons breathe fire after half-time

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest we look at one of the would-have-been Round 2 clashes in the NAB League this year between Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights. In this edition, we wind back the clock to 2016, and as has been the case the last few years with Sandringham winning each contest between the sides since, the Dragons produced one of the best second half performances in recent times, booting 15 goals to three to win by a whopping 90 points.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 4.6 | 5.10 | 7.11 (53)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 6.5 | 7.6 | 14.9 | 22.11 (143)

Round 1 | Saturday, March 26 2016
Ikon Park, 1.30pm

In what would become an ominous sign of things to come from the Sandringham outfit, the Dragons would shake off a lack of AFL Academy members – only Jack Scrimshaw was in the Level Two Academy – to end 2016 with five players drafted in the top 11 and eight overall with ridiculous top-end talent guiding them through the finals series. But rewind to the start of the season, and the Dragons’ first clash was at Ikon Park against Northern Knights who themselves had just the one AFL Academy member at Level One in Richmond father-son prospect, Patrick Naish.

From the first bounce, it was clear the Dragons were going to be a team to beat, booting 6.5 to 2.0 and holding a 29-point advantage heading into quarter time. It could have been greater with improved accuracy, and no doubt by half-time Dragons fans might have been a little worried. Northern had cut the deficit to a manageable 18 points, but luckily for the Dragons, the Knights had also struggled in the conditions, booting 2.6 to Sandringham’s 1.1. Both side had failed to make the most of their opportunities by the main break, with 11.12 between them, and Sandringham still on top.

It was after the break that spectators got a glimpse of what the Dragons outfit was capable of. Sandringham slammed home a stunning seven goals to one to effectively end the contest in a brutal 25 minutes. The Dragons booted 7.3 to 1.4, with inaccuracy again not helping the Knights at their second home in Ikon Park. With game done and dusted, most sides might have taken the foot off the pedal, but not this Dragons outfit that stepped it up another notch again with eight goals to two in the final term to run away a whopping 22.11 (143) to 7.11 (53) winner. It was a remarkable win for a side with talent to burn and points to prove.

Hayden McLean snagged five goals from 12 disposals and eight marks – four contested – as a massive force up forward. Future pick two, Tim Taranto played his best football in the finals series, but he gave everyone a glimpse of his future potential that day with three goals from 21 touches and six marks. Lachlan Filipovic was named the best by the Dragons for his work through the ruck with 23 hitouts from eight touches, three marks and four tackles. Oliver Florent was another in the best thanks to 17 disposals, one mark and five tackles, while the names of future AFL players included Will Setterfield, Cam Polson, Andrew McGrath and Corey Lyons. McGrath became the number one overall pick, and started his year with 18 touches, three marks, two tackles and a goal, while Setterfield recorded 22 touches, three marks, nine tackles and two goals. Polson (20 disposals, two marks, three tackles and 1.2) and Lyons (20 disposals, five marks and 1.2) also hit the scoreboard in the massive win.

For the Knights, Naish found plenty of it trying to run in transition with 20 touches – 12 handball receives – and three marks, while future top 10 pick, Nick Coffield racked up 16 disposals, seven marks (two contested) and three tackles in his first game as a bottom-age prospect. Lachlan Wilson (15 disposals, five marks, five tackles and two goals) was deemed the clear standout for the Knights, while Northern also had a number of future AFL players running around. Matthew Signorello (18 disposals, six marks – one contested – five tackles and a goal) and Patrick Lipinski (12 disposals, six marks – three contested – two tackles and 1.3) were both named among the best, while Lachlan Murphy had a day out feasting on 26 disposals, 14 handball receives, two marks and three tackles. Luke Bunker was not far behind with 25 touches, 12 marks and five tackles in a hard working effort.

As history would go on to show, the Dragons would win the premiership in magnificent style, defeating Murray Bushrangers in the 2016 TAC Cup Grand Final and dominating the top end of the draft. Northern would finish 12th, just 0.68 per cent behind 11th placed Bendigo Pioneers.

Seb Williams hoping to follow in Dashing Don’s footsteps

RED and blue has coursed through Seb Williams’ veins since the day he was born. He never met his grandfather Don, who passed away in 1995; but the former Melbourne Football Club Team of the Century member has left a lasting impression on Williams and his family.

Seb Williams has fine pedigree, with Don playing 250 games of VFL and WAFL combined – playing for the Demons in a golden era under Norm Smith, winning five premierships in the 1950s and 60s. Don also represented Victoria on four occasions as a hardnosed athletic half-back flanker.

‘Dashing Don’ as he was known was a brilliant half-back and athlete, promoted to the seniors a year after winning the Thirds Best and Fairest & finishing second in the Morrish Medal.

“Having a grandfather that’s in the Australian Sporting Hall of Fame, Melbourne Hall of Fame and the Team of the Century, I was a Melbourne supporter from the beginning,” Williams said with a chuckle. “I was told from a very young age by family and former Melbourne greats how good he was, and Dad (Brett) use to show me photos of some of his speckies. “Listening to people telling me all this sort of stuff made me want to be like him and it was a shame I never got to meet him.”

The colours red and blue never rubbed off in the Williams household, with Seb schooling at Brighton Grammar School (BGS) – whose traditional colours mirror those of the Demons.

Rewind to Round 10 2016, Williams lined up in the midfield for Brighton alongside future number one draft pick Andrew McGrath, in the pouring rain and torturous conditions out at Haileybury College. Haileybury themselves boasted some of the most talented school boy footballers including 2016 draftees Jack Scrimshaw (Gold Coast – Pick 7), Josh Battle (St Kilda – Pick 39) and with Cameron Polson (Carlton – Pick 59) out injured. Not to mention the highly touted 2017 draftees Luke Davies-Uniacke, Andrew Brayshaw, Charlie Constable and many more – as well as possible top five 2018 draftees in tall twins Max and Ben King, making for a tough slog for the visiting team on one of Melbourne’s worst days in memory.

It was fitting that the title would come down to that day at Keysborough with multiple AFL club recruiters watching to two schools slog out a hard fought five goal to four goal win to Brighton Grammar in the pouring rain and puddles forming around the ground – giving Brighton their third APS premiership in as many years.

As a Year 10 in 2015, Williams the 179cm midfielder had been there before – part of the Vic Metro Under 16 side and involved in Robert Shaw’s second premiership tilt in their undefeated season.

In a dull day in 2016 that saw McGrath push forward and boot two clutch goals, Williams played a major role in rolling up his sleeves and fighting hard to win the vital battle of the midfield, as one of Brighton’s better players on the day.

Williams’ steller 2016 APS season saw him earn a spot in the hounored 2016 APS team for their annual clash against the AGSV – where rarely students who are not in Year 12 are selection and has seen names such as Brighton’s Jayden Hunt, Marcellin’s Brayden Sier and St Kevins’ Oliver Hanrahan push themselves into recruiters thoughts and eventually drafted.

The back half of Williams season was hampered by severe cramping – eventually diagnosed as compartment syndrome putting him out of action for four months in the lead up to TAC Cup finals, frustrating Williams as he watched his teammates at the Sandringham Dragons win the TAC Cup Premiership.

“I felt like I had more to give each game and being physically unable to keep playing made playing very difficult,” Williams explained. “What made it frustrating was that I knew going into each game that I had two and a half to three quarters in me before playing through the pain before being unable to run.”

Seb Williams picks up the ball against Oakleigh Chargers in Round 1.

Williams’ pedigree not only stems from grandfather Don, with mum Barbora representing the Czechoslovakia across Europe in the 1980s, qualifying for World Championships and was the National Champion in the 3000m, 10,000m and cross country events – while father Brett is a Victorian scout for Melbourne Football Club. Remarkably at just 182cm, Don was a junior high, long and triple jump champion of Victoria.

Seb himself represented team Victoria at Nationals in the 800m and 3000m Cross Country events, but due to injury missed his first athletics season that he can remember.

“I grew up doing a lot of athletics (with mum an influence) and went to nationals a couple of times and school boy Cross Country before football became my focus,” Williams said. “Having a background in athletics has helped with football and I’ve found it gives me a bit of an advantage over some of my opponents.”

Intensive surgery was undertook in late 2016 on both calfs, with Williams starting preseason later than some of his teammates at the Dragons and with his school.

“It was difficult starting a couple of months later than everyone else and trying to get up to speed with my skills and also physically,” Williams said.

Williams’ short pre-season did not manage to get in his way when completing his TAC Cup testing, with personal bests for the 20m sprint (2.94s); agility of 8.294s and a standing vertical jump of 75cm – elite numbers by today’s AFL player standards.

Brighton coach Robert Shaw and his peer group appointed Seb as captain of the First XVIII for this season, a school in which many BGS champions have managed to go onto play AFL. No.1 Pick Jack Watts, No.1 Pick Andrew McGrath, No.2 Josh Kelly, No.9 Christian Salem, No.57 Jayden Hunt and Brisbane Lions father-son Josh Clayton all shared a similar story growing up and playing South Metro Junior Football League (SMJFL) at local clubs. For Williams and Salem, Hampton Rovers is the club where they fell in love with the sport tasting in multiple premierships along the way.

At TAC Cup level, Williams has had a strong season for the Sandringham Dragons when not playing school football. Playing as a high half forward, he has averaged 25 disposals (11 contested) and kicked six goals in his four games. At school level is where he has relished in a full time midfield role, leading Shaw’s young team.

In another crunch game against Haileybury College, Williams was one of the best players on the ground in the first half with 14 disposals and a goal – before being concussed in the second term. His game against Geelong Grammar, who boast a quality midfield with likely draftees Paddy Dow, Lochie O’Brien and Brent Daniels – Plus Jye Caldwell in 2018 – Williams had 44 disposals with coach Shaw quipping it was one of the better performances he had seen in his time as coach of the First XVIII. Williams also recorded 40 plus disposals in their thrashing of Wesley and will be looking to finish the remaining three games off well for the season before hopefully another appearance in the APS Rep team to face the AGSV – before aiming to play a part in the Dragons’ back-to-back flag aspirations.

Williams’ injury free season without pain has been one of success and like many aspiring to play at the next level, a focus on enjoying his final year is paramount.

“It was such a shock at first, I couldn’t remember the last time I had been able to run out a game,” Williams declared. “I’m really enjoying my footy so far this season, just trying to focus on having fun.”

If he turns out to be half as good as Old ‘Dashing Don’, he will be a worthy investment.

Victorian school football update June edition

WE ARE at the midterm break into the APS and AGSV school boy Victorian football competitions and Matt Balmer delves deeper into which prospects have performed 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 31-game career has shown, it is not the be all and end all if players aren’t selected in the pathways as we once knew it.

VICTORIA SCHOOL FOOTBALL UPDATE MAY EDITION

Haileybury College has all but wrapped up the APS premiership – barring losses to both St Kevins and Geelong Grammar in their final two games. Possible number one pick Luke Davies-Uniacke has been the star through the midfield. His ability to clear the ball by hand and foot when being tackled is phenomenal and he has been able to beat any tagger sent to him. Against Scotch, he showed he could use the ball off either feet with a pinpoint left foot kick into the corridor, while against Geelong College he had 44 disposals. Davies-Uniacke had a tough day in the ‘Grand Final’ against Carey, tagged and getting bumped around the ground by the Carey players who did all they could to stop him. It did result in some shaky footwork but he was still able to find more than 25 disposals. Max King has returned from injury with 10 goals in the last three games, as one of their standouts in Saturday’s game doing his 2018 no.1 pick chances no harm. Twin brother Ben too has remained up forward slotting a bag of six against Caulfield Grammar and whilst he gets better each game up forward – he should hold down a key position defender slot in his draft year.

Charlie Constable had more than 30 disposals against Carey and played his best football as a general defender with stints in the midfield, while captain Andrew Brayshaw has nursed a quad injury but should put his hand up for Vic Metro selection soon. Jackson Ross continues to play a nice role on the wing and across half forward, while it has been Jack McHale who has caught the eye of a few clubs in defence. Oscar Clavarino has been solid often intercepting off half-back, but Scotch’s Will Sutherland clunked a beautiful mark over him in their clash. One name that bobbed up from the weekend was Adam Schache who did some nice things – but Aiden Bonar might just be one of the best of the lot and should excite when he returns from a long term injury soon.

(We’ll have a full report on the Carey vs. Haileybury game online later this week) 

Carey Grammar’s undefeated run came to an end on Saturday – but they put up a fight against Haileybury College. Year 10 Matthew Rowell is a star and is highly touted for the 2019 draft. Rowell wins the ball through the midfield and has been named as Vic Metro U16 captain. Cooper Leon was one of Carey’s best against Scotch and Caulfield, finding the football right around the ground and using it well on his right foot. Captain Charlie Thompson wins the football in the midfield and was a big reason Carey got back into the game against Scotch, while Ed Richards has been impressive with his run and carry a highlight before using it on his long left foot. Oliver Simpson impressed in the game on Saturday and is a playing to watch for next year.

At the ‘Snakepit,’ St Kevin’s have had to fight hard with star midfielders Lachlan Fogarty and Rhylee West nursing injuries. It has meant that youngsters James Rowbottom and Jack Mahony have had to step up in the midfield, with under 16 Mahony tipped to be a star of the future. Kane O’Halloran has been their most important forward kicking some strong goals, while Cam Hodges is putting together some solid form this season and would be in consideration for the APS team of the season.

Scotch’s Will Sutherland continues to get the plaudits playing superb football as a key target up forward and spending time in the midfield, with one recruiter drawring comparisons to Marcus Bontempelli. He has been named in the Vic Metro squad and expect him to line up this weekend in their clash against Vic Country. Against Carey, he clunked nine marks (five contested) and booted three goals as the clear best on ground in the first half. Against Haileybury, some of his marks were outstanding and spent more time in the midfield than he did against Carey. Noah Croes made a few recruiters jot some notes down, with a nice mark in defensive 50 catching the eye against Haileybury. Croes is another good cricketer who won their best and fairest as a Year 11 and is playing good football across half back using his smarts. Vic Metro Under 16 Finn Maginness has missed games through injury, while Joel Garner has predominantly played across half forward – not attending a single centre bounce against Carey and Haileybury. Garner has a defining moment against Scotch, winning a two-on-one inside 50 and banging home the goal on his left foot. Ruckman Will Clark was one of their best in a close loss to Carey, clunking marks around the ground.

Brighton Grammar and Melbourne Grammar took part in the first ‘Pride match’ at Todd Road in May. Brighton midfielders Seb Williams and Alfie Jarnestrom played strong games in the midfield. Williams has been a big ball winner in the APS competition using his speed and agility to get around opponents with ease – racking up more than 40 disposals in two of his games. Victorian Under 19 cricketer Nathan Murphy has caught the eye and there has been plenty of interest at club land. The 188cm medium utility has looked at home in his new role up forward, clunking marks finishing with five goals against Wesley, with nearly all clubs having a scout in attendance. Murphy has a long kick and has been a late addition to the Sandringham Dragons squad. North Melbourne 2018 father-son prospect Joel Crocker has been outstanding coming out of defensive 50 possessing great agility.

Out at Flack Park, Melbourne Grammar led the ‘Pride match’ in front of a strong crowd with guest speaker Jason Ball speaking to the crowd before the contest. On the results front, it was not a great day for Melbourne going down to Brighton by 14 points. Charlie Spargo was well held with a quiet day – but did fight hard in the last quarter with some good lateral movement willing his teammates to try and turn around their three-quarter time margin. Up forward, Oscar Dowd has been one of their best – while Kyle Dunkley and Harry Bede are two others who have put together a strong month.

Caulfield Grammar has some draftable players with Vic Metro midfielders Dylan Moore and Trent Mynott, pushing themselves into draftable conversations after superb seasons at all levels. Captain Lachlan Harris played his best game of the season with 41 disposals against Geelong Grammar, tall forward Isaac Morrisby has fired into form with bags of five and four against St Kevin’s and Geelong Grammar respectively. Jackson Hille returned from an early season injury at the Dragons and has worked his way into the year with a good game finding 25 disposals on Saturday. Year 9 boy Will Phillips starred with 31 disposals and a goal vs. Geelong Grammar & will be a name to keep an eye on.

Geelong Grammar has disappointed results wise, but have some elite talent in Year 11 and Year 12. Jarrod Brander missed their clash with Caulfield due to Allies commitments, but up forward he was the difference in their victory over arch-rivals Geelong College. Brander turned the game on its head with a superb third quarter, with his marking and kicking under pressure a class above kicking five goals for the game. Bottom-ager Jye Caldwell has been impressive, with one draft watcher on declaring the star could contend for a top five pick in 2018. Paddy Dow has shown off his speed from the stoppages pushing himself into top ten calculations, giving his heart and soul through the midfield crashing in, getting it forward and hitting the scoreboard. The 184cm midfielder booted a bag of seven against Wesley College in Round 5. Lochie O’Brien has been tagged out of a few games with a rough start to the year – but expect him to show his class at the Under 18 Championships and the Bendigo Pioneers when he returns from injury. Jarrod Walters has also been another players well lately.

Geelong College went down in the local derby, but fought hard in a close loss to Melbourne Grammar on the weekend. Ed McHenry was outstanding for Vic Country and has been one of their best, with the lively player showing his tricks in the midfield. Jack Henderson has won plenty of football in the midfield and no doubt is leading their best and fairest. Henderson also clunked ‘APS Mark of the Year’ in the derby (See tweet below). Geelong 2018 father-son Oscar Brownless has worked his way into the season putting together some solid form.

Xavier’s Anthony Zimmerman is using his elite speed and goal smarts to good use, hitting the scoreboard. Bailey Smith was solid in the Vic Metro U17 Futures game and has been a strong performer in the midfield and rebounding across half back. Laitham Vandermeer is another who has been great for Xavier and would be a contender for their best player of the season. Changkuoth Jiath (CJ) has been exciting and his moments of flashes are simply eyecatching, often using his good athletic leap to clunk marks.  Australia Under 19 cricket speed demon Zak “Cherry” Evans has been a standout for Xavier – and could easily follow the football pathway should he wish. Evans booted two goals in the opening quarter on Saturday and is playing well. Charlie Whitehead, Jack Hewitt and Jeremy Lucas have been other good contributors for the Xavs.

Adam Cerra has nursed a shoulder injury at times for Wesley – but was a star in Vic Metro’s opening win of the National Under 18 Championships. Cerra spent most of the game against Brighton playing forward with his shoulder heavily strapped, and could’ve easily booted three goals in the opening quarter had he taken his chances. He used his speed to get distance between himself and opponents, taking a few good marks overhead. Charlie Dean impressed as a tall for Vic Metro Under 16 and has been good for Wesley. Oscar Bennett has been a strong APS player over recent years and has been solid playing mostly in defence. Adam Collinson has been another who has shown draftable traits through the midfield competiting well in the stoppages. While Bo James‘ impressive games left a one veteran recruiter scrambling to find out his date of birth for draft eligibility.

Over the in AGSV competition, Marcellin sit undefeated on top and have locked down the minor premiership spot.

Alex Federico is Marcellin’s best draft prospect and has been great through the midfield and dropping back to help the defence. His composure with ball in hand is good. Patrick Della Rocca is too powerful and strong for most opponents, with broad shoulder and a strong build helping the bottom-ager inside 50. Josh Posar impressed around the ground, finding plenty of the ball and marking uncontested on multiple occassions. It was however Riley Loton’s first half that would’ve had his name circled, using his nice left foot on the wing to power the ball forward. Christian Farchione used it well at times on his left foot, while Ben Wiggins provided a contest inside 50 as a marking target.

Mentone fought hard in their loss to Marcellin, unable to stay with them for long enough. Ed Newman looms as the most draftable player, playing across half back and through the midfield. The Victorian Under 19 cricketer will have a tough decision on his hands – recently added to the Sandringham Dragons squad, but if he picks the football path I have no doubt a club would strongly consider him. Newman booted a good running goal in the third quarter on his left foot. Kai Owens impressed on the wing, finding plenty of the ball and is okay on his right foot. Joel Amartey was played out of position, with most of the game inside 50 as their tall target rather than in the ruck. The first bounce saw the ex-basketballer leap over his Marcellin opponent and win the tap, but up forward didn’t read the flight of the ball great. Devlin Brereton is fast on his feet, with good agility and caused trouble at times for Marcellin defenders. Year 10 Jai Florent bagged a good goal in the third quarter, while Tom Yorgey and Lewis Diggins are willing to crack in hard and fly the flag for their teammates.

PEGS have the top prospect from the AGSV with Cameron Rayner a strong performer in Vic Metro’s win on Sunday. Rayner has been solid without starring for PEGS, but returned to form with an outstanding game against Mentone with over 30 disposals and multiple strong contested marks showing off what many saw him do as Year 11 for school. Curtis Taylor has come back from injury and been another great performer, seeing him earn selection in the Vic Metro side. PEGS did miss the ‘dynamic duo’ on Saturday, with Peninsula pulling off a great win at home.

Patrick Naish is playing good football for Ivanhoe, booting a few goals against a weak Trinity team and a strong Mentone team. Naish had some extra attention from the Mentone midfielders, but still was okay. Seems to relish playing out at Chelmsworth Park (Ivanhoe’s home ground) where he has played some brilliant games over the last few years. Max Dreher missed the game against Mentone – but has been another solid performer on the inside and across defence.

Peninsula pulled off an unexpected win against PEGS, but won’t qualify for AGSV finals. They have got a good crop of young Dandenong Stingrays and as I eluded to in the previous update, Jai Taylor and Will Antonie are the two worth keeping an eye on.

Ryley Stoddart is Yarra Valley’s best player and starred with a big bag of goals against the winless Camberwell. Stoddart is a clean ball user on his left foot and was good for Vic Metro on the weekend. For Assumption, Shane Skidmore has been impressive and put in a solid performance for Vic Metro in the Under 17 Futures clash. Trinity and Camberwell have struggled so far this season and both hold the clear bottom two positions – despite Trinity pushing Ivanhoe for a draw earlier in the season.

Under 18 Championships Preview: Allies

THE ALLIES are in their second year of a relatively new Under 18 Championship concept bringing together the best players from the Under 18 Academy Series (Previously the division two championships) to play against the division one teams.

2016 saw top ten draftees Will Setterfield (GWS Giants) and Jack Bowes (Gold Coast Suns) run out for the Allies, playing against division one sides South Australia, Western Australia, Vic Country and Vic Metro.

Last year saw the Allies bookmarked as favourites by some for the title – but struggled coming together just before the championships started, finding it hard to play as a team. This year; a camp as a group and two trial games in the lead up to the division one carnival will hopefully allow the players to adjust to their new teammates and gel as a group.

While the squad on the forefront isn’t as strong as last year, the Allies are expected to put up a fight throughout the carnival.

Greater Western Sydney’s academy has the most members of any division two side, with 12 players included, followed by Gold Coast Academy (10) and Sydney Academy (nine). Northern Territory (seven), Tasmania (six) and Brisbane Lions (four) round out the other division two sides.

Among those named are first round prospects Jarrod Brander and Charlie Spargo (GWS), both of whom were ruled ineligible to be drafted by GWS through the academy system and placed on the open market. Connor Ballenden (Brisbane) is another pegged as a first round talent as one of the best key forwards in the draft.

The squad also includes two father-son prospects for the 2018 draft with Bailey Scott (Gold Coast) who is also eligible for father/son at Geelong and North Melbourne, and Nick Blakey (Sydney – also eligible for father/son at North Melbourne and Brisbane).

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DHu5Xb0zzg[/embedyt]

Players to watch: 

Zac Bailey – Was one of the standouts for the Allies in their trial game against Vic Country – collecting 18 disposals, laying eight tackles and had five clearances. His work inside the contest is very good despite his small frame. Has enough speed to burst from the stoppages and can hit the scoreboard.

Connor Ballenden – The Brisbane Lions Academy member is a strong contested marking forward who plays well out of the goalsquare. Will likely provide some chop out in the ruck for Brayden Crossley and Nathan Richards throughout the carnival. Has a very fluid set shot routine and kicks more goals than he misses.

Jarrod Brander – Brander is a key position tall that can play at either end. His mobility is very good and he reads the flight of the ball well in the air. Has been kicking goals for Geelong Grammar at school football – but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play at centre half back in the Under 18 Championships for the Allies.

Jack Powell – The GWS Academy member is a good two-way runner and is a clean ball user on his right foot. Spreads well from the contest and did some good things in the NAB AFL Academy game at the MCG. Had 16 disposals in the midfield for the Allies in their practice game against Vic Metro.

Charlie Spargo – Small bite-sized midfielder who cracks in hard despite standing at 175cm. Wins the contested ball and is willing to tackle hard to get the ball back. Played for the Allies in 2016, with a strong effort manning Vic Metro’s MVP Andrew McGrath at Etihad Stadium – collecting 15 disposals and laying six tackles.

2018 names to keep an eye on:

Bailey Scott – Good decision maker with ball in hand and wins the ball on both the inside and outside. Marks well overhead and was impressive for Gold Coast in the Under 18 Academy Series. Had 12 disposals and took four marks in the Allies’ trial game against Vic Country. Father-Son prospect to Geelong and North Melbourne, as well as being eligible for Gold Coast through their academy.

Nick Blakey – One of the leading players for the 2018 draft. Not only can play as a tall, but has the ability to push up into the midfield. Moves well and kicks it nicely on his left foot. Likely to play up forward for the Allies. Sydney Swans Academy member and father-son prospect to North Melbourne and Brisbane Lions.

Tarryn Thomas – Starred for Tasmania last year in the Under 18 Championships as an Under 16 player. Had some outstanding moments in the trial game against Vic Metro collecting 17 disposals, showing off his speed across half forward. Had very good vision and awareness to switch the ball deep inside 50 to find a free teammate at the top of the goalsquare. Is part of North Melbourne’s Next-Generation Academy.

FIXTURES

Round 1: v VIC COUNTRY – June 11th 12.30pm Blacktown
Round 2: v SOUTH AUSTRALIA – June 17th 10.10am Adelaide Oval (FOX FOOTY)
Round 3: v WESTERN AUSTRALIA – June 25th 12.30pm Leederville Oval
Round 4: BYE
Round 5: v VIC METRO – July 5th 2.10pm Simonds Stadium (FOX FOOTY)

Possible Round One team: 

B: Jake Hinds, Jack Payne, Kwaby Boakye
HB: Tom Highmore, Jarrod Brander, Jack Clayton
C: Brodie Foster, Nicholas Shipley, Sam Davidson
HF: James Bell, Nick Blakey, Tarryn Thomas
F: Hugh Dixon, Connor Ballenden, Jack Hardman

FOLL: Brayden Crossley, Charlie Spargo, Jack Powell
INT: Nathan Richards, Luke Robertson, Brendan Myers, Harry Simmington, Zac Bailey

Predictions: 

Finishing prediction: 4th – The Allies should be able to beat Western Australia and their tall forwards may cause headaches for other teams if they can win enough ball in the midfield.

MVP prediction: Charlie Spargo – The tough inside midfielder was the Under 16 Alan McLean Medalist, dominating division two back in 2015. Expect him to crack in hard and win the plenty of the ball.

2017 ALLIES SQUAD

No. Name
DOB
HT (cm)
WT (kg)
Club
1 Charlie SPARGO 25/11/1999 173 73 Murray Bushrangers/Albury
2 Jack HARDMAN 31/12/1999 173 67 Swans/UNSW
3 Brodie FOSTER 3/3/1999 178 74 Suns/Surfers Paradise
4 Laine FITZGERALD 16/1/1999 179 78 Bendigo Pioneers/Balranald
5 Zac BAILEY 23/9/1999 180 68 Southern Districts
6 Jack POWELL 15/7/1999 180 75 Giants/Ainslie
7 Sam DAVIDSON 6/5/1999 180 70 Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin
8 Luke SKRIVANIC 8/4/1999 182 74 Swans/Pennant Hills
9 Jacob DAWSON 3/11/1999 182 80 Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin
10 James BELL 10/2/1999 183 75 Swans/UNSW
11 Brendan MYERS 10/2/1999 183 80 Giants/Wagga Tigers
12 Adam SAMBONO 24/4/1997 184 69 Darwin Buffalos
13 Bailey SCOTT 9/7/2000 184 70 Suns/Broadbeach Cats
14 Jack CLAYTON 25/2/1999 184 77 Lions/Wests Juniors
15 Jake BROWN 19/3/1998 185 76 Swans/St George
16 Thomas MUNDY 23/11/1999 185 79 Burnie
17 Jy LANE 21/3/1999 185 78 Murray Bushrangers/Corowa
18 Jake HINDS 7/5/1999 186 78 Launceston
19 Doulton LANGLANDS 29/7/1999 187 80 Murray Bushrangers/North Albury
20 Nicholas HUTCHINSON 21/5/1999 187 80 Hobart City
21 Damien BURKE 21/1/1999 188 83 Suns/Cape York Eagles
22 Tarryn THOMAS 25/3/2000 189 71 North Launceston
23 Luke ROBERTSON 7/5/1998 189 85 Swans/North Shore
24 Kwaby BOAKYE 16/3/1999 188 88 Suns/Broadbeach Cats
25 Harry SIMINGTON 28/3/1999 189 85 Suns/Labrador Tigers
26 Nicholas SHIPLEY 25/6/1999 190 90 Giants/St George
27 Matthew GREEN 5/5/2000 190 67 Sporties Spitfires
28 Harrison CARR 9/2/1998 190 87 Swans/North Shore
29 Michael CARROLL 18/6/1999 191 85 Swans/Pennant Hills
30 Caleb GRAHAM 12/9/2000 192 82 Suns/Palm Beach Currumbin
31 Tom HIGHMORE 24/2/1998 192 82 Giants/Marist
32 Zac BUECHNER** 5/3/1998 192 90 Clarence
33 Jarrod BRANDER 11/2/1999 194 89 Bendigo Pioneers/Wentworth
34 Nicholas BLAKEY 27/2/2000 194 75 Swans/UNSW
35 Hugh DIXON 26/2/1999 195 92 Kingborough Tigers
36 Jack PAYNE 15/10/1999 195 93 Lions/Noosa
37 Alex PAECH 17/6/1999 196 99 Murray Bushrangers/North Albury
38 Connor BALLENDEN 29/3/1999 199 95 Lions/Wests Juniors
39 Brayden CROSSLEY 16/8/1999 198 105 Suns/Labrador Tigers
40 Nathan RICHARDS 11/2/1999 200 102 Giants/Griffith Swans
42 Timakoi BOWIE 4/4/1999 175 80 Suns/Cape York Eagles
43 Jarrod OSBORNE 29/12/1998 180 79 Swans/Manly
44 Ben SLOAN 27/8/1999 189 80 Lions/Mt Gravatt
45 Rodney BAIRD 1/3/1999 192 72 Palmerston
46 Daniel JOHNSTON 1/12/1999 196 97 Murray Bushrangers/Barooga
47 Tony OLANGO 2/9/1998 200 80 St Mary’s
 ** Zac Buechner was a late inclusion for Tasmania Chayce Jones

Victorian school football update May edition

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.

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.

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.