Putting faith into South Colac’s crop of emerging young footballers helped keep the Roos a genuine contender this season.
South Colac lost seven players from last year’s grand final side in the off-season; Brendan Monaghan, Nick Cole, Alex McVilly and Dylan McCarthy to Colac, Joel Menzies to Irrewarra-Beeac, Stuart Foley to retirement and Ben Lynch to overseas travel.
Add VFL commitments to champion forward Ben Cox and gun onballer Tim Speirs and all of a sudden football followers were tipping last year’s grand finalists to drop away.
South Colac had welcomed talented forwards Harry Sinclair and Zak Day, as well as Josh Woods mid-season, but Roos coach Tim Foley opted to invest time into the club’s emerging players.
The result was a shaky start to the season, losing two of their first four games to Lorne and Birregurra and only just getting over the line against Simpson.
But after round four, South Colac won 12 of its next 14 games, with the only surprising result a loss to Alvie in round 18.
“We lost seven or eight players from last year, and when you have that many players go out of a settled side you’ve got to adapt and change,” Foley said.
“We certainly went down the path of bringing in junior or younger guys and just playing them, guys like Zach Jamieson, Nathan Seabright, Jordy Foley, Mitch Perkins, Billy McLeod, Aaron Clissold, Harry Smith,” he said.
“We made a decision to play them, they committed and they worked their butts off to make sure they held their spots.”
Foley said having a core group of experienced players like Daniel Roberts, Jake O’Dwyer, Clay Brewer, Mick Embrey and Dave Marendaz helped the young Roos’ development.
“We’re lucky we had an experienced list, so when we lost that seven or eight we still had a dozen guys with senior experience,” he said.
“So when we brought those young guys in we didn’t fall away with leadership.”
The Roos’ season ended in a preliminary final for the fourth time in five years.
South’s top-three finish exceeded many football followers’ expectations, but Foley said “it is a bit disappointing to get that close and not reach a grand final, particularly after we’d beaten Lorne during the year”.
“Our aim at the start of the year was to make top three and we ticked that box,” he said.
For the full story see today’s Colac Herald.