Under 14s make huge strides in 2018
TEAM LEADER: Damon Harrington has been Myrtleford’s standout player in the under 14s this season.
MYRTLEFORD under 14s coach Simon Crisp says his team has improved in leaps and bounds in the space of 12 months, going from just four wins in 2017 to a 17-0 record in 2018 with just the grand final left to play.
The Saints’ have been dominant all year and finished the home and away season with a daunting percentage of 502, but Crisp says player development at an important age in an individual’s football career has been key to the side’s success.
“It would be a good way to cap it off (a premiership) but it’s not the be all and end all, the most important thing is improving the players,” he said.
“We do a lot of ball work, on Thursday nights we solely focus on the opposite side of the body and skill orientated stuff - the improvement has been unbelievable right across the board.
“My biggest goal is to get all the kids to improve, there’s no point going on playing footy if you haven’t learnt how to kick and handball.
“My main focus is really getting the kids to become the best footballers they can.”
Saturday’s match between the Saints and Kangaroos will be the ninth under 14 grand final Myrtleford has played in since joining the Wangaratta and District Junior Football League with their first appearance in the big dance coming in 2004.
The Saints qualified for the final game of the year in style with a 64-point semi-final victory over Kangaroos who won through to the decider by beating Centrals in the preliminary final.
Liam Morgan bagged six goals and standout midfielder Damon Harrington did as he pleased in what was the Saints’ first meaningful game in a month after wrapping up the minor premiership some week priors.
“It is a bit of a battle at times to stop them from going through the motions,” Crisp said.
“It’s such a long season that drags on and we get a bit complacent at times, coaches as well, but the boys have been pretty switched on and focussed on improving as well as having fun.
“It’s been a good year, they have come a long way and played good footy,” he said.
“I knew we had a couple of good players, but I didn’t expect it to be such a successful year, hopefully we can cap it off.”
The under 14s grand final will get underway at 12.15pm.
MYRTLEFORD has scooped all but one major award in the Wangaratta and District Junior Football League in 2018.
Young guns Ashton McPherson and Damon Harrington capped off stunning individual seasons by claiming league best and fairest awards at the league presentation on Monday night.
Saints players also collected leading goal kicker gongs with Ryler Bouker (U16), Liam Morgan (U14) and McPherson (U12) all topping their respective competitions.
McPherson won the Kevin Mahoney Medal in a thrilling count with his 31 votes enough to edge out Wang College player Jez Rigoni.
The young Saint booted 33 goals and featured among his team’s best in all but one game this season.
McPherson’s coach Rob Miotto said the co-captain had led by example all season.
“He has good skills and he plays the game tough, he runs really hard and the rest of the team looks up to him as one of the leaders,” Miotto said.
“Every week he is in our top two players, leading by example as captains do.”
In the under 14s count Harrington shared the Ken Farrell Medal with Brodie Paul from Centrals as both players polled 32 votes.
The skilful midfielder entered the count as one of the favourites given he was named Myrtleford’s best player a massive eight times this season.
Harrington’s recent form has been particularly sensational with four best on grounds in a row and six BOG performances from his last seven matches.
Myrtleford under 14s coach Simon Crisp said Harrington was a pleasure to coach.
“He is a very talented young fella, he listens, takes everything on board and is very good on both sides of his body,” he added.
In the under 16 league vote count the best placed Myrtleford player was Josh Muraca who finished third behind Mansfield Eagles star Harry Mahoney.
Bouker led the under 16s goal kicking with 75 majors while towering forward Liam Morgan topped the under 14s list with 43.
By TATE SPITERI By TATE SPITERI
TALL TARGETS: Ryler Bouker and Liam Morgan both had big years in front of goal of their sides.