STATE league football returned in South Australia on the weekend, with AFL Draft prospects scattered throughout all three grades as they begin their quest for elite level recognition. In the first SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we narrow our focus to the Under 18s competition, where a bunch of promising talents had big games across the four fixtures. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
By: Tom Wyman
#3 Charlie Pridham
Pridham spent most of the day in the defensive half of the ground as the dedicated kicker down back. He was tasked with kick-in duties early on and his teammates clearly looked for him when exiting defence. Although some of his ball use, particularly early in the game, was not super effective, Pridham exhibited some nice awareness of time and space and appears to understand the game well. The Bloods’ most prolific player, the diminutive Pridham accumulated 32 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a game-high 12 rebound 50s in what was a strong opening effort.
#9 Kobe Ryan
The bottom-aged midfielder showed why he has a big future with a stunning performance in his Under 18 debut. Having spent most of last season playing college football with Sacred Heart, Ryan was in everything early on, winning the opening clearance before following up his kick with a strong tackle. Impossible to miss with his long blonde hair, Ryan consistently showed an ability to be in the right areas at the right time. He looks to be a very natural footballer who can find the ball at will, but also use it creatively. Ryan showed he has several different types of kicks at his disposal too, possessing the capacity to spear one long into the forward 50, chip it into space for a teammate to run onto, or size up a leading teammate with a clever snap. Despite his slim build, Ryan was fantastic in the air and tackled brilliantly at ground level. A textbook tackle on the broadcast wing was another highlight of his game. If his 28 disposals, six tackles and four clearances is anything to go by, the midfielder appears set for a terrific year.
#10 Cade Kennedy
Kennedy was one of the Bloods’ best despite his side going down by 26 points. He tried hard all day, cracking in whenever necessary but also having an impact on the outside of the contest. He exhibited quick evasiveness on a couple of occasions and looked threatening at stoppages inside-50.
#36 Tyson Coe
Coe, in-tandem with teammate and schoolmate Kobe Ryan, provided something to look forward to for Bloods fans after a difficult 2020 season for the clubs’ Under 18s. A strong physical specimen despite being a year younger than most others, Coe used his size and strength to advantage in his inside midfield role, winning a game-high seven clearances. He has a well-developed inside game, with his strong tackling, contested ball winning and overhead marking all very sound. His pack mark in the first quarter was indicative of his strength. However, it was his turn of speed from the stoppages which really impressed. Coe possesses a nice burst of power and, although his kicking technique could use some minor refinement, his skills over a variety of distances were predominately effective. One of several talented bottom-agers on show at Hisense Stadium, Coe finished with 24 touches, six marks and five tackles.
#40 Luke Young
The key forward presented up at the footy all day and was also clean when the ball hit the ground. Clearly the number one target in attack for the Bloods, Young brought the ball to ground well whenever he didn’t manage to mark it. He showed great strength to stand up on numerous occasions, both in the air and in general play. His tacking was strong for the entirety of the contest and his leading patterns ensured he was often available as a target down the line. Young kicked two goals, both from close range, and finished the night with 20 touches, 10 marks and four tackles in what was a very strong start to the new season. Expect him to be the focal point in attack for the Bloods throughout the season.
#54 Harry Lemmey
Lemmey kicked the first goal of the game after marking Kobe Ryan’s inside 50 kick. He looks to have a beautiful set shot goalkicking technique. Spending most of the game as a key forward, Lemmey didn’t get a heap of opportunity, with the Bloods’ ball-use going inside 50 not always benefitting his aerial skillset. Regardless, Lemmey appears to have some nice traits and will no doubt take some positives from the Round 1 clash. The bottom-ager finished with nine disposals and five marks to go with his two majors.
Dylan McCormick did some nice things throughout the game for West Adelaide. He accumulated 16 touches and took seven marks. Adam Bunworth was effective down back, providing six rebounds from his 17 disposals and Harry Barnett fought well in the ruck, finishing with 19 hit-outs.
#2 Harry Tunkin
After piecing together a strong 2020 season, Tunkin was again impressive in the Tigers’ Round 1 victory. Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Tunkin regularly won first possession at the stoppages he attended. His awareness in-tight, football smarts, vision and ball-use by hand were the primary features of his game. A natural ball-winner, Tunkin regularly found teammates on the outside with clever over-the-back handballs and applied plenty of pressure around the ball carrier. He collected 31 disposals and booted one goal, along with three marks, five tackles and five clearances in what was a strong first-up effort from the Prince Alfred College junior.
#5 Hugh Stagg
Stagg was one of several strong performers for the Tigers. A strong physical presence, Stagg was utilised as a forward but also spent considerable time as a big-bodied on-baller. He displayed great strength above his head in the first quarter, taking the mark and finding key forward Harry McInnes with a well-placed kick which lead to the Bays’ second goal of the match. At times he could have been sharper with his ball use, however the forward-midfielder was a threat for the duration of the contest and applied a heap of intense tackling pressure. Stagg could consider himself unlucky not to have walked away with a couple more goals to his name. He finished with 26 disposals, one goal, five marks, eight tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s.
#13 Hayden Brokensha
Bottom-ager, Brokensha pieced together a reasonably strong game for the Bays Under 18s. The SANFL State Talent Hub member spent a large portion of the game on the wing with stints through the inside of the contest. He worked hard both ways and provided some important run-and-carry between the arcs. His kicking was clean for the most part and he showed an ability to win his own ball when thrown into an inside role. Brokensha accumulated 14 disposals and took six marks in a performance which the midfielder will look to build upon as the season gets rolling.
#16 Harry McInnes
Key forward, McInnes threatened to tear apart the game in the first quarter, bagging two goals within the first seven minutes of the contest. Clearly the most dominant forward on the ground, McInnes’ lead-up work was fantastic as he used his power, size and strength to advantage. However, it was a frustrating night for the PAC product, who converted just two of his eight shots on goal, with a couple of snaps rattling the post. He was super busy around the ground, gathering 19 disposals and five marks in what proved to be a ‘what-if’ game for the big man. Still, his dominance on the lead will cause plenty of headaches for opposition sides this season.
#20 Lewis Rayson
One of the standout South Australian prospects heading into season 2021, Rayson wasted no time in showing recruiters what he can do. Stationed in his customary half-back position, the speedster never backed down from the contest and refused to be beaten, both in the air and once the ball hit the deck. His positioning allowed him to cut off several West Adelaide attacks and from there he used his speed and precise ball-use to damaging effect. In general play, he backed himself to hit targets which few players would dare to attempt. Although his speed, skills and intercept marking down back are the main strengths of his game, it was Rayson’s contested ball work which was particularly impressive against the Bloods. Rayson fought harder than his West Adelaide opponents, willing himself into the contest and refusing to give up the ball. He concluded the game with 31 possessions at a brilliant 94 per cent disposal efficiency, six marks, three tackles and seven inside 50s.
Jacob Owens was prolific all day, winning 29 disposals, sending the ball inside-50 five times and taking an equal game-high 11 marks. His run-and-carry through the middle of the ground was a highlight. Bottom-ager Archie Lovelock showed a touch of class with ball in hand. He kicked a beautiful snap goal in the second term and looked very much at home at Under 18s level, filling a variety of roles around the ground. He finished with 23 disposals at 70 per cent efficiency and took eight marks. Darcy Gluyas was vital for Glenelg, mopping up plenty of West Adelaide forward entries and marshalling the troops from his half-back role. He gathered 27 disposals and took seven marks. Adelaide father-son prospect Brodie Edwards was typically clean with ball in hand across half-back, operating at 84 per cent efficiency by foot. Harrison Kaesler finished with 26 disposals, ten marks, five inside 50s and four rebounds, while bottom-aged talent Lachlan Scannell also performed well, collecting 20 disposals, six marks and four tackles.
NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
By: Tom Wyman
#4 Isaac Keeler
It was the Isaac Keeler show for much of the day at Prospect Oval, with the athletic big man bagging five majors as his side easily accounted for Central District. After featuring in the ruck a few times last season, Keeler spent the whole day in attack and really showcased his elite athleticism. He was able to get separation from his various direct opponents with relative ease, using his natural speed to put distance between the Bulldogs defenders. One of the most exciting young talents in South Australian football, Keeler slotted the opening goal of the day with a beautiful kick from 50 metres out and followed that up 10 minutes later with another long-range effort, this time on the run. He finished with five goals but could have easily added another couple as the forward missed a couple of gettable opportunities. Keeler benefitted from the Roosters’ midfield domination and the Bulldogs simply had no answers for him on the lead. Also extremely threatening once the ball hit the deck, Keeler will have plenty of recruiters and Crows fans excited about his prospects, finishing the game with 12 disposals and six grabs.
#5 Shaun Bennier
One of three Roosters included in the Under 17 SANFL State Talent Hub, Bennier showed flashes of his talents at Prospect Oval. He did his best work coming out of defence, where he managed five rebounds and showed some excellent evasiveness. A good size at 190cm and 80kg, the Ingle Farm product tackled hard and accumulated 19 touches in North’s 49-point triumph.
#12 Hugh Jackson
Isaac Keeler booted five and Harvey Harrison was terrific, but it was the work of Crystal Brook midfielder, Jackson which took centre-stage for the Roosters. Spending all game in the midfield, Jackson was everywhere from start to finish, accumulating the ball at will and combining with the likes of Harrison, James White, Zyton Santillo and Max Blacker to completely dominate the midfield battle. Not only did he find the ball at will, Jackson used it to perfection by hand and foot. Exceptionally clean below his knees, his kicking was a real treat to watch at times. For a tough inside-leaning midfielder, his ability to spot up targets over short and long range and execute both in-tight and in space made it easy for the Roosters forwards to capitalise upon. He switched the play efficiently, hit multiple targets inside 50 and, crucially, looked to spot up teammates out of stoppages where others would have blasted away. He was equally as creative by hand too, consistently hitting targets with crafty handballs, especially at stoppages. Instead of completing simple one-metre handballs in congestion to a teammate under pressure, Jackson evidently looked to pass it to players with some space, a skill which has been mastered by some the best inside midfielders in the game. Jackson was sensational for the Roosters, finishing with 37 disposals, six marks, three tackles, seven clearances and a goal.
#15 Harvey Harrison
Harrison was one of a handful of North Adelaide on-ballers who had a field day in the opening round of the season. Like Hugh Jackson, Harrison was not afraid to back his skills and hit tricky targets, particularly when looking to go inboard. A beautiful kick to the leading Isaac Keeler early-on in the contest was a real highlight of his game. Harrison provided some fantastic run and carry through the midfield and showed some tricks around the ball, including a well-executed pirouette. The midfielder’s work rate was evident, as he tirelessly ran from contest to contest, even as the game was in its dying stages. Some of his clearance work also proved vital. Harrison finished the game with 33 disposals, a game-high 13 marks, seven clearances, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.
#22 Blayne O’Loughlin
The North Adelaide captain picked up from where he left off in 2020, after impressing as a bottom-ager for the Roosters last season. O’Loughlin spent the day in the half-back role which he has well-and-truly made his own over the past year or two. The Gepps Cross junior and Adelaide Crows Next Generation Academy prospect, who describes himself as a ‘crafty backman’, was typically cool and calm with ball in-hand. He rarely wasted a possession and plays with such poise and calmness. O’Loughlin has a tremendous ability to sense how much time he has and isn’t afraid to wait until the right option presents itself, rather than kick long in hope. Against the Bulldogs, he also made a couple of strong defensive efforts one-on-one, to compliment his ball-use. Easily one of SA’s most talented prospects, O’Loughlin finished with 29 disposals (including 23 kicks) and seven rebound 50s for the red and whites.
#28 Max Blacker
Bottom-aged midfielder, Blacker was one of the standout performers for the Roosters. The midfielder is one of those players who seems to always be involved and around the footy. He was particularly busy early on as North Adelaide asserted its dominance over the contest in the opening quarter of action. Blacker used the ball well for the majority of the game and was one of several Roosters who consistently delivered the ball on a silver platter to their leading forwards. However, he will likely be peeved with having finished with three behinds. Blacker concluded the game with 21 disposals, three tackles, seven clearances and four inside 50s.
#29 Zyton Santillo
Santillo was at his creative best for the Roosters. Part of North’s superb midfield rotation, the zippy Payneham product certainly has some tricks up his sleeve, but wasn’t afraid to crack in and do the hard stuff. He worked tirelessly all game and managed to take an impressive 10 marks. He won three clearances and showed off his neat foot skills to hit-up Charlie Froling on the lead with a perfect pass in the first half. Santillo racked up 25 touches, five marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s for the game.
Exciting forward Kelsey Rypstra produced a very good performance for the victorious Roosters, making the most of his shots on goal to finish with three-straight majors. He also managed 19 disposals and eight marks. Key forward Charlie Froling worked well in tandem with Isaac Keeler and was another beneficiary of the Roosters’ slick ball movement and efficiency going forward. A mobile tall with great hands overhead, Froling nailed three goals and took five marks for the game. Midfielder James White finished the clash with 24 disposals, seven tackles, four clearances and a goal.
#3 Isaiah Dudley
The Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect entered the game with high expectations, having been earmarked as a potential draftee for a number of years now. The talented pocket-rocket started the game at the centre bounce and was shifted forward at various stages. Despite being smaller than many of his opponents, Dudley attacked the ball with ferocity and bounced off several would-be tacklers. It was clearly difficult for Dudley to have much impact on the game up forward, given the Bulldogs lacked the polish of the Roosters. He was perhaps unlucky to be caught holding the ball a couple of times, however Dudley applied plenty of pressure of his own through the midfield and in attack, laying seven tackles for the game. He booted a classy goal from the pocket to start the second term to highlight his skills around goal. Dudley finished the game with 18 disposals, seven tackles, two clearances and six inside 50s.
#16 Shay Linke
The Central Districts leader and SANFL Academy member was clearly his side’s best in what proved to be a tricky day for the red, white and blue. Spending most of the game in the midfield, the versatile Linke accumulated a team-high 27 disposals and was particularly effective around the contest, winning four clearances. The top-ager from Tanunda looks a good size at 188cm and, at 75kg, has some growth left in him which will excite recruiters.
#37 Cody Gilchrist
The big full forward was one of the Bulldogs’ bright spots, booting three goals in attack. Although he missed a number of chances to finish with a bag, Gilchrist provided a presence in the air, hauling in three contested marks for the day and helping set up a couple of Bulldogs majors. Gilchrist looked mobile when the ball hit the deck and did just about all he could, all things considered. He finished with 11 disposals and seven marks.
Midfielder Luigi Mondello was one of the Bulldogs’ best. He showed some real burst from the contest and wasn’t afraid to take the game on, using his speed to good effect. He kicked two goals from nine disposals. Ruckman Saxon Evans narrowly got the better of North Adelaide big-man Durant Tindale in the ruck contest, finishing with 23 hit-outs to Tindale’s 20. Ruben Carreno managed 23 disposals and six rebounds while Tahjin Krieg competed well, collecting 20 disposals, a team-high eight clearances and seven inside-50s. Finn Read also had some nice moments, booting a goal to go with six marks and 17 touches.
STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
By: Tom Cheesman
#11 Will Spain
A member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub, Spain was fantastic for the Double Blues and will be one of their most reliable performers this season. The midfielder has good aerobic fitness, which enables him to get to plenty of contests and work into defence to help his side’s offensive transition. In Friday’s match, he was also clean below his knees, positioned himself well at stoppages and spread well once his side won the ball. With eight clearances and strong bodywork to make space for other Sturt midfielders, it is evident that Spain has a high football IQ. These attributes, along with his willingness to repeatedly apply tackling pressure, will hold him in good stead this season. The only negative was that he missed a shot at goal in the third term that he should have nailed. Nonetheless, he finished with 29 disposals, eight clearances, four marks and five tackles.
#12 Jamie Taylor
Taylor, a powerful midfielder with a booming left foot kick, was one of Sturt’s most consistent contributors throughout the match. With 30 disposals (the most on the ground), six marks, five clearances and six inside 50s, it was an impressive all-round performance by Taylor. He has the strength to fend off oncoming tackles, crumbs marking contests well, and uses his kicking ability to open up the play. He will be dangerous in combination with Will Spain and Brad Jefferies in the midfield for Sturt this season.
#13 Brad Jefferies
Jefferies is a potential bolter this year and he had a good start to the season against the Eagles. The midfielder stayed composed when tackled, worked hard around the ground and found plenty of the ball. A highlight was a clever forward handball out of a stoppage to teammate Will Spain in the third term that initiated some fast attacking play. He worked forward to kick two majors in the second half, including an important one just before three-quarter time to give Sturt the lead. He finished with 21 disposals, six marks, four tackles and three inside 50s.
#32 Morgan Ferres
A hybrid forward with elite marking capabilities, Ferres was easily the best player on the ground. He kicked six majors to go with 17 disposals, 10 marks (two contested) and two inside 50s. Ferres was the centrepiece of our first Player Focus piece for the year, which took a deep-dive into his Round 1 performance.
Charlie Fryer (four marks, six tackles, two rebound 50s) was reliable in defence for the hosts, and he produced a couple of incredible highlights for the local crowd. The main ones were a run-down tackle in the first quarter and an unbelievable mark of the year contender at the start of the second term. Mitcham Hawk Kai Tucker (17 disposals, eight marks, six inside 50s) was brilliant all day on a wing, while Felix Packer (three goals) and Nick Sadler (21 disposals, seven clearances) were also strong contributors in the victory.
#12 Brayden Calvett
Calvett showed how important he is to the Eagles’ Under 18 side in Round 1 with an impressive performance. He rotated between midfield and forward, often playing the sweeper role at centre clearances. This allowed teammates to find Calvett out the back of stoppages and enabled him to utilise his lethal left foot to send the Eagles inside 50. The Eagles love Calvett having the ball around the 50-metre arc, as his ball movement going forward is near elite. This ability was on display frequently throughout the contest, including when he hit Lucas Cooke in the second term to set up a goal, and when he booted a major himself at the start of the third term to give his side the lead. When Calvett took marks in the defensive half, he often looked to switch and open up the play, and his explosiveness when breaking away from stoppages caused plenty of trouble for the opposition. Calvett finished with 22 disposals, five inside 50s, five rebound 50s, four clearances, four tackles, three marks and a goal.
#17 Lukas Cooke
Cooke provided a strong presence for the Eagles up forward. After not getting many opportunities in the first term, Cooke earned a free kick inside 50 but missed the shot on goal. The important thing to come from this was that Cooke did not let the miss sour his confidence. He made a major impact in the second term, kicking back-to-back goals and becoming a key reason why the Eagles got back into the contest. His contested marking was fantastic and he was their most reliable target going forward. He also pushed back to take some intercept marks behind the play, thus showing that he can play a defensive role if need be. The delivery to him wasn’t always great in the second half and, as a forward, he was understandably a bit quieter once Sturt took full control of the game in the final term. He finished with 17 disposals, two goals, 11 marks (two contested), four inside 50s and a tackle.
Adam D’Aloia (24 disposals, eight tackles, nine clearances) was great in the midfield for the visitors, while Will Pearce (two goals, six marks) and Brock Thomson (20 kicks, eleven rebound 50s) also had good starts to the season.
SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
By: Tom Cheesman
#21 Matty Roberts
Roberts is the among the highest rated South Australian midfielders in this year’s draft class, and on Friday at Flinders University Stadium, he showed exactly why that is. He played predominantly as an inside midfielder and eased himself into the contest, collecting several marks around the ground and displaying his quick hands. While he found plenty of ball on the outside, he wasn’t his usual dominant self at the stoppages early in the match. With that said, the last quarter was when he really stepped it up. Norwood were within a goal for most of the final term, and Roberts responded to their efforts by frequently pushing back to help the defence, taking intercept marks and hunting the football at stoppages to get it moving in his team’s direction. Once South earned a seven-point lead with a couple of minutes to go, Roberts pushed forward and kicked the sealing goal with a volley out of mid-air. He finished his well-rounded performance with 25 disposals, eight marks, six clearances, six tackles, six rebound 50s, five inside 50s and a goal.
#33 Arlo Draper
Draper is a member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub and was dominant for the Panthers on Friday, collecting 25 disposals to go with seven marks, six tackles, seven clearances and two inside 50s. While he is extremely versatile and can play any position on the ground, he was predominantly played as a midfielder in this contest. In this role, he proved that he is a class above Under 18 level and certainly can impose his will on a contest at the centre clearances. Draper has great closing speed and spreads well from stoppages, and he provided plenty of exciting link-up play through the middle of the ground. He is also a strong tackler, as demonstrated when he caught Redlegs speedster Archie Richardson holding the ball in the first term. Draper went forward at times, looked dangerous in one-on-one situations and booted two goals in the second half. His second goal was a clever soccered effort off the ground from a forward 50 stoppage, a moment that should feature on his highlight reel come the end of the season.
Cooper Rogers (15 disposals, four marks, seven tackles) found plenty of the ball early, while Lachlan Hayes (16 disposals, six marks, five rebound 50s) showed great agility in defence by weaving through trouble and using quick hands on multiple occasions. Hugo Hoeck (17 disposals, two goals) and Dylan Brown (13 disposals, one goal) were also lively throughout the match.
#1 Tyson Walls
Under-ager, Walls was very impressive for Norwood, their most prominent contributor on the day. He has an electric first couple of steps once he receives the ball, clean hands and a clever sidestep that he used to get past opponents on numerous occasions. This included when he used it on the 50-metre arc to shake off an oncoming tackler and boot Norwood’s first major of the day. Walls is also fantastic at working into space, has a fluent set shot routine and solid foot skills. His delivery inside 50 was effective in most instances, and he booted a nice 40-metre goal in the third term. He finished with 25 disposals, eight inside 50s, four marks, four tackles, three clearances and two goals.
#9 Alastair Lord
Lord, a member of the Under 19 State Talent Hub, was reliable in defence for the Redlegs. He is a crafty half-back flanker that reads the ball well, uses it brilliantly by foot and has an innate ability to get free for uncontested marks. Lord was great at helping his side control possession whenever necessary, an important trait in half-back flankers at all levels of the game. He also made an impact at times coming off the back of the square at centre clearances, and this is something he should look to do more in future contests. He collected a game-high 26 disposals to go with eight marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s.
The skills of Noah Hyde (14 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Bailey Gal (14 disposals, five marks) were impressive for Norwood, as was the run provided by under-ager Taj Rahui (17 disposals, three tackles). Matthew Dnistriansky (20 disposals, seven marks) was good in defence.
Image Credit: Nick Hook Photography