Under 13 Season Review
After playing in their first finals series in 2014 the U13’s had a solid preseason. Our season theme was #anotherstep
We welcomed two new players in Connor Kilgour from the Eastern Lions & Patrick Accadia in his first season of Junior Football.
The started in season in great fashion with wins in our first two games before going down to cross town rival Boronia in a game that was poor by our own standard.From this point we added clearance work to our training schedule as we highlighted this as an area we needed to improve in across the board.We also introduced 2Km time trails every Wednesday as a way for the kids to improve their own fitness levels while also giving them a record of their own times to use in the coming weeks as a reference of their own hard work.
Over the next six weeks the team has some mixed results with two wins a bye and three losses, leaving us outside the top five for the first time this season and with only five rounds to come with one more bye and a last round clash with the undefeated Ferntree Gully our season was on the line. A review of our season to date showed we had as or even more ball use as our opponents and we were going inside 50 close to 3 times for every opposition entry but we just failed to put scoreboard pressure on our opponent while our backline was holding up wonderfully and growing with confidence as was our midfield. It was clear our ball use and decision making needed work and our forward line needed to work harder.
With a change to our forward line structure our training focussed on delivering the ball to areas that would put pressure on our opponents while our forwards need to be more disciplined with their leading patterns while protecting the space for themselves and their team mates. While we expected this would take time for all the kids to get their heads around we felt there was a new enthusiasm at training during that week and this flowed into the next game where we had a great result at home in round ten against Boronia winning by 32 points with 17 scoring shots to 5, if not for some poor conversion up front it may have been a bigger margin. Our season was back on track and the kids had their tail up.
Round 11 seen us have a bye but a couple of kind results left us in fourth place.
Round 12 at home against Kilsyth who had given us some hard contests in recent years, we expected a tight game and the kids where up to the challenge with a great first half lead of 36 points and again only poor kicking up front kept our opponent in the game. The second half was a tough affair as expected with the bears coming out on top by 29 points with 17 scoring shots to 8 really showing the difference in the contest.
Round 13 again at home against Sth Belgrave. Simple equation was win today and you lock a finals berth in. On a cold wet day with a number of kids sick the bears started on fire but again let themselves down up front going into the rooms at half time 32 points up with 12 more scoring shots, eventually running out winners by 36 points with a couple of kids sent to the showers early and a couple of players spending some time down back in different roles. This win lifted us to 2nd on the ladder with a home game against the Ferntree Gully Eagles who not only where undefeated but had been winning with ease in most of their games.
A win gives us a double chance a loss leaves us possibly finishing as low as 5th.
The kids started very positively without putting any scoreboard pressure on our opponents, both team had chances early and the bears defended well as they have done all year. ¼ time its 7 points and we have signalled to our opposition that we have come to play, all be it just not taking our opportunities up front and this has been our Achilles heel so far to date.
The start of the second continues like the first with a real arm wrestle and the kids are showing they can match it with the best.
Late in second quarter our Captain Liam Porter gets a knock high in a contest you would see many times in a game but fails to get up of the ground, unfortunately for Liam and the team his injury is of a serious nature and has to be carried off the ground and later taken by Ambulance to Hospital. It is moments like these we are reminded of the great work our trainers do each week and Andrea Moody & Melissa Lavender where amazing under challenging circumstances.
This seemed to take the sting out of our game and the second half was predictable as it was poor with injuries to a couple of other players the day finished on a sour note but in reflection great for the kids to make finals for the second year running as we finished fourth after the season proper.
The team headed into the Elimination Final against Blackburn minus Captain Liam Porter and Matt Weller both with concussion and Josh Hampton & Josh Ciccone had to sit out the first half unable to train all week carrying injures into the game. While the kids where flat early in the week after getting knocked around in round 14 we reassessed and focused on all the great work the kids had done throughout the year, they had come a long way individually and as a group, our motto for the finals was #wearenotdoneyet Going into the game as Coach I just wanted the kids to win a final for their own experience as they had worked very hard all year, some of the improvements in fitness was well evident in every player improving on their own times in some cases by over 5 minutes. In our only game against Blackburn for the year we went down by 32 points so we knew only our best would get the job done.
The team was amazing on the day, in what was a tough game. We kept our opponents to only two scoring shots while we worked hard for our 5 goals the 31 point margin was closer than play would have suggested as the team controlled play for most of the day. It was great to see the reaction from the kids after the game as they had just won their first final, would this spur them on to bigger and better now they had a taste of finals success.
Week two of finals against Lysterfield who beat us by 20 points earlier in the year in what was a poor performance by our own standards and felt confident that at our best we could get over them.
We welcomed back into the team Liam & Matt but lost Sam Sartori to flu on the eve of the game and his run off half back in week 1 of the finals was a highlight of the game and Jordan Windsor to a foot injury after his best game for the club last week so both are big losses. The team started the game as they finished the week before and controlled the contest but again left the door open with poor conversion up front. Winning the game by 24 points with 16 scoring shots to 4 and booking a place in this year’s preliminary final against Boronia who we have had mixed results against. Preliminary Final and a spot in the big dance on the line was an exciting prospect and while we had our tail up we had to keep working on our forward structure and delivery.
As expected Boronia was a tough opponent and after a scoreless 3rd quarter from both teams the margin was just 2 points with only 1 goal apiece to both sides. This game was going to go down to the wire.
Boronia got an early goal and with the crowd up and goals hard to come by this was going to be some challenge for our kids. We attacked for the next 5 or so minutes and after a missed shot by our leading goal scorer Jesse Cormack-Brown we were starting to wonder if our poor conversion up forward was finally going to hurt us. With about 5 minutes left in the game Aiden Klepac won a free kick on a tight angle close to goal and kicked truly to put his team back in front. With tired legs the team defended bravely for what felt like forever to hold Boronia out for a memorable victory by 5 points and a spot in the big dance.
Grand Final week was as memorable as the day itself and we started with a rehab/boxing/swim session on the Monday night down at Busybodies Boronia, the team enjoyed the change of scenery and after 3 tough games deserved to recovery. Monday & Tuesday nights the coaches & I discussed and scrolled through our stats looking for a plan to combat the heavily favoured Ferntree Gully Eagles who had easily got over us twice during the season, both times by 42 points. While the mountain was big, it was one we were ready to climb.
Wednesday night was spent working on two areas, Goal Kicking with a slight mix up to inject a bit of confidence into our forwards plus clearance work around the grounds. It was here we felt we could get an advantage on the day. After training the senior coach spoke to group and reminded them all of the importance of the occasion and while the top six or so will be important and will give us what we expect the bottom six can be the difference. Friday night the kids trained like they had had enough and we weren’t sure if this was a bad sign or not but we were determined we finished the season off on a positive note. As we had four teams playing in Grand Finals the mood was electric at the club with the Mums cooking up a pasta storm for all the kids and the anticipation for Sunday was growing.
On game day I felt the kids where relaxed, I thought about our opponent and knew they had played one game since our round 14 encounter while we had 3 tough games and the team was playing as well as they ever had. Was this an advantage? Time will tell.
We gave big jobs on the day to 4 players. The eagles had 3 players in the top five goal scores and Bailey Emmerton, Ronan Moody & Jesse Thompson got those three while big Jayden Smit got the role in the ruck against their dominant ruckman who had had a great season to date but felt if we win this position it would go a long way to controlling the game, all good in theory but how it would play out was still to be seen. Liam wins the toss and the bears kick with the breeze, good result as we want to get off to a good start if we are going to upset the undefeated Eagles.
The first quarter could not have been played any more to script if it was a movie, Jayden in the ruck was dominant pushing the ball to space with the likes of Cody, Aiden & Connor getting clean clearances to kick the ball into attack and our forwards were as lively as we had seen them all year Josh Ciccone, Jesse Cormack-Brown, Liam Porter & Cameron Philpotts all contributing up forward and Bailey, Ronan & Jesse with the help of Sam defending well to finish the first Quarter 5.3 to 1.2. Finally a quarter of football with our forwards complementing the rest of the team and applying scoreboard pressure to our opponents. The second quarter we knew the Eagles would come at us and against the breeze we would need to hold our nerve. While the contest was tight the bears defended with poise and discipline and continued to play to instruction and run the football out of defence against the bigger forward opponents from the Eagles. While we blew a couple of opportunities during the quarter a late run from Aiden to kick to Nathan deep in the forward pocket seen the bears keep their four goal lead and maybe for the first time in the game a real belief they could get the job done today. Half Time scores 6.4 40 to 2.6 18. The instruction at Half time was to not get ahead of ourselves and forget the scoreboard. It was time to start again, we had the scoring end and needed to capitalize on our great start.
The third quarter was played across both half forward lines early with neither side being able to penetrate the opponents defence. The Eagles went for a more mobile Forward setup and the bears where up to that challenge with our defenders keeping the Eagles scoreless for the quarter while Jesse Cormack-Brown at his elusive best found a way to create a couple of golden opportunities to slam two 3rd quarter goals on the board to extend the lead out to six goals and really give the highly favoured Eagles something to think about.
The first 10 minutes of the last quarter was an arm wrestle and the defence kept denying their opposition an easy way to goal. When the Eagles got their first for the quarter they were 5 goals down with 10 minutes to play and need to do everything right. The bears by this stage were starting to feel the pinch as they had done a mountain of work and you just knew the Eagles would have one last crack. The Eagles had a number of chances late but whether it be pressure from time or scoreboard just failed to convert when need and the team held on for a memorable 10 Point win to take out the Under 13D Premiership. This has been a very rewarding year for all involved and just deserved for all the hard work put in by coaches players & parents. I would like to thanks the coaches John Durose who was my voice of reason who I bounced all my ideas off, Mick Porter & Mark Thompson for helping out at training and Mark again for Organising Luke Hodge to come down and take training. Brett Walters for his great work as runner and helping out at training. Our Dream Team Managers Andy & Rob, they just ensured that match days ran like clockwork great stuff. Brad Edwards & Damien Ciccone as Boundary Umpires. Andrea Moody, Melissa Lavender & Maree West as trainers kept our kids safe and well and even the opponents from time to time. Ralph & Michelle Weller for Interchange Steward. Richard Klepac & Dave Forrest for Umpires Escort. Gabriel Accadia for his selfless work collecting team stats during the season was fantastic and played a huge part in our season development & finals success. Fiona in the canteen kept all the kids nutrition in order with her new menu and the mums with the Oranges & Lollies and Banners during Finals was just amazing. The support from the senior group throughout the season was enormous with players coming down to training on a Friday night to help with development, coaches spending time with game reviews and grand final week, coming down to games for support was not missed and well received. As you can see it takes everyone’s input to have a successful year and I thank you all for your help and support. Lastly to all the kids, it has been a pleasure coaching you all and getting to know you. Your success this year is a result of your hard work and persistence to improve as a team. I thank you for listening to your coaches and trying to get the best out of yourselves and each other. This premiership was not just won but earnt and I look forward to watching your further development from the sidelines in future years.
Team Finish: Premiers
Captain & Coaches Award – Liam Porter
VC & Best & Fairest Cody Forrest
VC & Runner up B & F Bailey Emmerton
DVC, Most Consistent Award, Leading Goal Kicker & Runner Up League Best & Fairest Jesse Cormack-Brown
DVC & Best Finals Player Ronan Moody
Most Improved Sam Sartori
Most Determined Aiden Klepac
Best Team Player Darcy Walters
Best First Year Player Connor Kilgour
Best Finals Player Jayden Smit