Top-age Saints eye one more premiership
MR CONSISTENT: Josh Muraca has enjoyed a fantastic season which he and his teammates will look to cap off on grand final day.
FIFTEEN members of Myrtleford’s under 16 team will be out to end their junior football careers with a premiership when they take on Mansfield Eagles at the WJ Findlay Oval this weekend.
The group that has already won a premiership together (under 14s, 2016) and most will line up in their third grand final in four years, making this bunch of teenagers one of Myrtleford’s most talented in club history.
The current campaign has been the group’s best ever as they went undefeated and completely dominated the competition by averaging 173 points a game while conceded just 20 points a week during the regular season.
The Saints had the competition’s three leading goal kickers in Ryley Bouker (75 goals), Declan Bren (69) and Dominic Bedendo (54) while Josh Muraca was fifth on the leaderboard with 43 majors.
Coach Paul Muraca said he was always confident his side would see some success this year after finishing fourth with just a handful of top-age players last season.
“We have had six try out for Bushies (Murray Bushrangers), seven play in the interleague winning rep side and Ryley (Bouker) play a senior game which was a fantastic effort,” Muraca said.
“The boys are well driven, and they love their football so they’re not hard to keep motivated.”
The Saints were given a fright in their semi-final against this weekend’s opponent, the Eagles, trailing at halftime before going on to record a 13-point win.
“It was a credit to Mansfield, they are a good side and we have had some fantastic battles with them over the last four years,” Muraca said.
Bouker was closely marked on the day but was still the hero in the come from behind triumph, booting five goals.
“Bouks always brings his A game and he’s a very good kid, good to coach and is a true sportsman,” Muraca said.
“He got us over the line but Crispy (Charlie Crisp) was really good too and Will McKerral always gives us first use (in the ruck).
“It would be very, very disappointing if we didn’t go on with it now, we have definitely done the work, training since February and doing a lot of extras.”
All 15 players that will graduate from juniors are expected to join the returning under 18s team next year to be coached by senior club stalwart Tristan Purss.
But their current coach believes a number of players could push on to suit up in the afternoon game on Ovens and Murray match days.
“I honestly believe we have four or five boys that could play senior football next season if they put the work in, there is some really good talent there,” Muraca said.
Ryley Bouker kicked three goals and was among Myrtleford’s best in his one senior game this season.
Saturday’s WDJFL main game will be played at 2.30pm.