AFTER plenty of conjecture earlier in the week, Maiden Gully YCW Eagles kick off Saturday’s start to the Bendigo Bank Loddon Valley Football Netball League season on home turf at Maiden Gully.
Based on last season’s form and their recruiting campaigns, the Eagles and Superoos are likely to serious challengers for the 2019 premiership flag.
Last September, Mitiamo scored a six-goal victory in the preliminary final against Maiden Gully YCW.
Both line-ups have changed markedly since then.
The Wayne Mitrovic-coached Eagles squad for round one includes Darby Graham, Matt Gray and Dylan Morris, who have all crossed from Sandhurst.
Mitiamo’s new-look coaching panel is Andy Grant, second year, and Tyrone Downie, first year.
A classy forward, Downie previously coached Kangaroo Flat, starred for Bendigo in the VFL, and had a stint as a mature-age rookie with Gold Coast Suns.
Downie is likely to play a key role across half-forward or close to goal, but could play in just about any position.
The Superoos will have Brent Downie, Brenton McKenry and Braydan Riddell mark their LVFL debut, and also welcome back gun midfielder Doug Thomas.
A four-time premiership winning coach at Calivil United, Andrew Freemantle marks his return to the club in a big clash against Newbridge on the Demons turf at Calivil.
Facing the reigning premiers first-up is a challenge that Freemantle and the Demons, premiers in 2017, will be prepared for.
The Calivil United squad includes the classy Jake Hall, a premiership star with Strathfieldsaye Storm; as well as newcomers Bailey Wingrave, Jed Thompson, Ben Haines, Lachlan Begg, and Sam Demeo.
Newbridge has made few changes to its premiership-winning team.
Second-year coach Brad Comer has bolstered the attack by signing Cameron Rinaldi who previously played in the Bendigo FNL with Maryborough and Kangaroo Flat.
Jack Timmins will take his place on the wing in his first match for the Maroons.
A talented line-up includes the likes of Tyler Romeril, Ash Trollop, Ed Coulthard and Cameron Grant.
Inglewood is at home against Marong.
A new-look Inglewood, to be coached by Ryan McNish for the third year, includes six recruits.
Jake Cowman at centre half-forward; centreman Kaleb Kennedy, key forward Chris McKay, Brae Mensforth in defence, Lachlan Sidebottom, and rover Hayden Polglase will be doing all they can to help the Blues climb the ladder.
The task will not be easy against Marong, one of the busiest in the off-season.
The Panthers have appointed Taylor Beard and Ash Weldon, both new, as joint coaches.
Marong’s additions include Harry Graham at centre half-back, Ben Gregg on a wing, Chris Ling at full-back, Ben McKinley and Kyle Manley in attack, Jeremy Salinger in defence, Jack McCaig in midfield, and Adam Ward.
Adrian McErvale will make his coaching debut as Pyramid Hill faces Bridgewater on the Bulldogs turf at Mitchell Park.
Pyramid Hill will be determined to build on last season’s 10-8 record and fourth place.
The Bulldogs’ recruits to take on the Mean Machine include Braidy Dickens at full-forward; Scott Mann and Bailey George in midfield, Dylan Morrison at full-back, Evan Dorrington and Bevan Gunther.
The Dale Cameron-coached Bridgewater was bolstered by the signing of ruckman Cameron Ross, and will also have Alex, Oliver and Sam Banko play their first match for the club.
Other newcomers for the Mean Machine are Harrison Booth, Tom Gill and Mac Whittle.
The play of Darren Clutton, Zane Hoiles and Jack Symons will be a key to Bridgewater’s chances.
Bears Lagoon-Serpentine has the bye.
Starting times for Loddon Valley FNL footy matches:
Seniors at 2.15pm.
Reserves at 12.30pm.
Under-18s at 10.40am.