District team primed for challenge
Horsham District football will take centre stage at Ballarat City Oval on Saturday as league representatives attempt to build on success from last year.
The Green and Gold takes on Ellinbank and District in an interleague clash on neutral ground halfway between the leagues and needs to win to continue clawing its way up state rankings.
Horsham District sat 28th in AFL Victoria Community Championship standings after interleague games last year, despite a crushing 90-point win over Colac and District.
The result more than blew away memories of a 2016 disaster against Maryborough-castlemaine, but the reputation-rebuilding job is far from done.
Horsham District coach Nick Pekin said his collective team was looking forward to the clash and to continue working on an upward ranking trend.
“The team is looking very promising. We have the squad that wants to be there and is committed to the cause,” he said.
“I said all along that I wanted as much player buy-in as possible and I think we have that.
“I’ve told the boys that we need to be climbing back up the ranks and start getting the league reputation back to where it belongs.
“The players will get a lot out of this experience.
“Interleague, apart from stepping up to play a better standard of footy, is great for developing broad relationships and improving generally.
“It’s about attitude and Scott Carey from Swifts is a case in point. He has a broken hand and can’t play, but instead is now our runner.”
Pekin said he was keen for his team to play a fast and attacking style of football and capitalise on a depth of midfield runners.
“We’ll be rotating the mids flat-out – I believe we have the players to do that – and we want to win,” he said.
“Importantly, the guys who want to be there are there, which means they will have a red-hot go.
“They have put their hands up, done the work and now want to prove themselves.”
Pekin, who will have significant onfield leadership duties, has a potent brains trust on the bench behind him with decorated club leaders Gareth Hose in charge of defence, Guy Smith the midfield and Tim Inkster the forward line.
A possible team appears well balanced with a broad cross-section of players from across the league.
Swifts’ power-packed goal-kicking group is well represented with Damon Folkes and Andrew Cameron in the teeth of goals with Edenhope-apsley’s Damian Monaghan.
There is also plenty of venom across half forward with Harrow-balmoral’s Anthony Close holding the key centre-half-forward position and flanked by Kalkee gun Simon Hobbs and mercurial Natimuk United sharpshooter Nathan Koenig.
In defence, Matthew Butler from Edenhope-apsley and Swifts’ Liam Scott have key-position duties.
Dustin Cross, Liam Jakobi and Taylor Milner will provide critical support alongside Angus Martin.
There is plenty of action expected through the middle, where everyone from Pekin, Ben Taylor, Jacob Cocks, Sam Mcclure, Edenhope-apsley, and Ryan Folkes will be primed for a tagteam with the likes of Cam Bruce, Alex Ridsdale, Baillie Batchelor, Bart Nolan and Matt Healy.
Strength in the air is often pivotal in champion games and all eyes will be on the impact Harrow-balmoral ruckman Todd Lawrence has on the game.
Under-16 and under-18 games will be curtain raisers to the senior action. Possible team B: Taylor Milner, Edenhope-apsley; Matthew Butler, Edenhope-apsley; Liam Jakobi, Pimpinio. HB: Dustin Cross, Noradjuha-quantong; Liam Scott, Swifts; Angus Martin, Laharum. C: Sam Mcclure, Edenhope-apsley; Ben Taylor, Swifts; Jacob Cocks, Jeparit-rainbow. HF: Simon Hobbs, Kalkee; Anthony Close, Harrow-balmoral; Nathan Koenig, Natimuk United. F: Andrew Cameron, Swifts; Damon Folkes, Swifts; Damian Monaghan, Edenhope-apsley. Foll: Todd Lawrence, Harrow-balmoral; Nick Pekin, Harrow-balmoral; Ryan Folkes, Swifts. Inter: Jack Vague, Noradjuha-quantong; Cam Bruce, Noradjuha-quantong; Baillie Batchelor, Kalkee; Bart Nolan, Edenhope-apsley; Matt Healy, Swifts; Alex Ridsdale, Natimuk United.