UNBEATEN champion in 2021, Mitiamo Superoos will again be the hunted in this year’s Bendigo Bank Loddon Valley Football Netball League senior footy action.
A great run for Mitiamo was a 16-3 record to be premiers in 2019.
After no play in 2020 because of Covid the momentum kept rolling as the Superoos won all 12 matches before a halt was called to last season.
A major change has taken place at John Forbes Oval as Marcus McKern takes on the senior coaching role after the successful reign of Andy Grant and Tyrone Downie as co-coaches.
An assistant coach at Mitiamo since 2018, McKern also had assistant coaching stints at Elmore, North Bendigo and Kyneton.
This season he will have talented midfielder Ross Turner who previously played at Kangaroo Flat as playing assistant coach of the Superoos.
There have been few changes to the premiership-winning side, although key defender Max Simpson has moved to Anglesea and Tyrone Downie is also out.
A formidable Mitiamo squad includes Lee Dale, winner of the Allen Marlow Medal as last season’s best and fairest winner.
Experienced onballers Lucas Matthews and Doug Thomas, Luke Lougoon across half-back, and Ryan Wellington and Tim Brooks in attack are just some of the many keys to Mitiamo’s success.
The Superoos take on Quambatook in a practice match at John Forbes Oval in Mitiamo on March 19.
Mitiamo’s run at a premiership hat-trick starts at home on April 2 against Bears Lagoon-Serpentine.
After a 10-2 record and second place last season, Marong shapes as a team to be reckoned with once again.
The Panthers secured the double chance for last year’s finals, a feat they had not achieved since the 2004 season.
The Linton Jacobs-coached Panthers have a powerful forward line led by Kain Robins, 49 goals; Brandyn Grenfell, 39 goals in six matches, as well as the marking power of Adrian Pappin, 22 goals, and Simon Weekley.
Add the classy Cory Jacobs across half-forward and Marong has many scoring options.
Marong’s build-up includes a match at Colbinabbin’s M.J. Morgan Reserve at Colbinabbin on March 18.
The Panthers will play Maldon on March 26 at a venue to be confirmed.
Gun on-baller Nathan Devanny was Marong’s best and fairest last season in a team where Corey and Ben Gregg, ruckman Justin Hynes, Adam Ward and Richard Tibbett were in top form.
The Panthers recruits include Matt Willox from Learmonth and Trent Fisher from Roxburgh Park.
After injuring his hamstring in round three last season, classy small forward Dylan Cuttriss who had previously starred for Rochester and Colbinabbin did not play again for the Panthers in 2021.
Cuttriss will be spending more time with his young family in 2022 so will not play, but has not ruled out a comeback to football.
After time with Strathfieldsaye and Bendigo Pioneers, Ryley Taylor is back at Marong as is Lachlan Lee, winner of the club’s under-18 best and fairest and runner-up for the league award in the 2018 season.
Marong starts the season under the Marist College Oval lights against Maiden Gully YCW Eagles on April 2.
A highlight of round one will be the clash between Bridgewater and Pyramid Hill at Bridgewater.
A premiership-winning player with Hawthorn in 2008 and premiership-winning coach at Golden Square, Rick Ladson returns to Bridgewater as senior coach.
A 125-game career for Ladson in the AFL began in 2022 and went for 10 years.
He was playing coach of Golden Square in 2013 as the Bulldogs won the Bendigo Advertiser premiership cup for the fifth year in a row.
Ladson takes charge at a club which had a 10-2 record and was third when the Loddon Valley’s 2021 season was called off.
A strong attack for the Mean Machine was led by Josh Martyn, 57 goals; Alex Powell, 27; former coach and Richmond and Carlton player Andy Collins on 20 goals in seven games.
Bridgewater’s recruits include Harry Donegan, a premiership-winning player with Golden Square whose skill and workrate in midfield or attack will be a huge plus.
Also joining the Mean Machine is Riley Treloar, a top-order batsman with Bendigo United’s first XI and team-mate of Donegan’s on the cricket field.
A major departure for Bridgewater is Liam Jacques and Jarrod Fitzpatrick to Golden Square.
Key players for the Mean Machine include last season’s best and fairest winner, Jarrod Fitzpatrick, ruckman Cameron Ross, Lloyd Needs, Peter Rothacker, Tom Broadbent and Darren Clutton.
Pyramid Hill had a 7-5 record last season and is likely to be challenging for a top-three berth once again.
A multiple premiership-winning coach of the club’s under-18s team, Nathan Fitzpatrick takes on sole senior coaching duties after Adrian McErvale stepped down.
Matt Pollock is the new assistant coach.
The Bulldogs’ build-up to the season includes the March 26 practice match against Koondrook-Barham at Pyramid Hill.
The Echuca CIH Sales and Service Community Practice Match at Pyramid Hill will involve several neighboring clubs.
Entry is by gold coin donation and all proceeds go to the Pyramid Hill Fire Brigade.
Ins to the Bulldogs’ squad include Mitch and Steve Gunther, Liam Ly, Lars Casperson and Jack Timmins.
Last season’s attack led by Braidy Dickens, 50 goals; Bailey George, 29; and Mitch Cheesman, 22; will be a key to Pyramid Hill’s quest to break a lengthy senior premiership drought.
Classy onballer Matt Ladson was the Bulldogs’ club champion in 2021 and been a superb pick-up for the club after he previously played for Leitchville-Gunbower, Strathfieldsaye, Bendigo Bombers and Bendigo Pioneers.
A strong Bulldogs line-up includes Jacob Heavyside, Adrian Holland, Gavin James, Brad Ladson, Bailey Goodwin and Dylan Morison.
Bears Lagoon-Serpentine has appointed 25-year-old Justin Laird as senior coach following a rebuild led by Greg Gadsden.
The Bears had a 5-6 record as they finished fifth last season.
Darcy Poulter was last year’s best and fairest and will play a key role along with Tannar Cerrone, Darcy Poulter, Andrew Gladman and Josh Walsh.
It will be a new-look attack for the Bears as James Rippingale has joined Heathmont, Brodie Hawke has gone to Ramco, and Orion Downing to Huntly.
The Wayne Mitrovic-coached Eagles from Maiden Gully YCW marked a 4-7 record to be sixth last season.
Mitrovic has stayed on as coach of a team which battled for goals against the top four teams.
A highlight for the Eagles was a 10-goal haul by Mitrovic in the round 18 match on Inglewood’s turf.
The Eagles’ leading goalkicker last season was Matt Gray, 21 goals in six games, who has now signed with North Bendigo.
Maiden Gully YCW will also be without Tori Ferguson and Travis Mercadante who have gone to Huntly.
The Eagles’ pre-season includes a hit-out at Maiden Gully against Boort on March 18, and then at Macorna on March 26.
It will be a tough opening for the Eagles against neighboring Marong on April 2 under the Marist College Oval lights in Maiden Gully.
Key players for Maiden Gully YCW include last season’s best and fairest and ruckman/forward Chris Howgate, Sam Barnes, Hamish McCartney, Sean Moyle, Josh Worsley, Steve Turner and Luke Gray.
Newbridge will be desperate to improve last year’s 2-9 record and 7th place.
The Luke Freeman-coached Maroons play Wedderburn in a practice match on March 26 at Newbridge’s Riverside Park and will be back on home turf on April 2 to take on Newlyn.
The Maroons have the first-round bye in the LVFNL season and will face Mitiamo on April 9 at Riveside Park.
Recruits at Newbridge include Jackson Fry from Kangaroo Flat, Paddy Andrews from South Bendigo, and Jordan Formosa after stints at Huntly, Strathfieldsaye and Heathcote.
A high for Newbridge in 2021 was the play of onballer Harry Whittle to earn the Harding Medal as the league’s fairest and best.
Whittle and Chris Dixon led the Maroons’ attack on 17 and 15 goals respectively.
Improving goalscoring power is a major focus for Freeman.
Key players for the Maroons include Ryan Burt, Logan Dixon, Tom Hobson and Mitch Hocking.
A new-look Calivil United will take to the Calivil ground on April 2 against Inglewood.
The Demons have recruited Jack Daley from Huntly to be senior coach and aiming on a big improvement from last season’s 2-9 tally.
A big intake of recruits at Calivil United includes Jacob Greenwood as assistant coach, Phil Ryan, Blayne Ryan Storey and Lachlan Mangan.
The club will be without last season’s best and fairest and assistant coach Brady Childs who has joined White Hills.
Calivil United’s pre-season hit-outs were at home against Lancaster on March 11, and then at Natte Bealiba on March 18 on the Swans’ turf at Bealiba.
Despite a winless run in 2021, Inglewood has become a destination club.
The Darrell Billett-coached Blues have welcomed midfielders Bregon Cotchett and Charlie McGaw from Balwyn and De La Salle respectively.
Also new to the Inglewood squad are Charlie Ingham and Alex Lowe from Caulfield Grammarians, Campbell Love from Strathfieldsaye, and Kyle McLellan and Jed Rouse.
The Blues’ best and fairest in 2021, Cody Stobaus played superbly against the odds all season.
First of Inglewood’s practice matches was on March 5 against Nullawil at Inglewood, and he Blues will be back on home turf to play Dunolly on March 19 at Dissy Machinery Oval.
The Loddon Valley FNL has scheduled an 18-round home and away series.
There will be two general byes – Easter on April 16, and June 11 for the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend.
Qualifying finals will be on August 20.
Elimination finals on August 21.
Second semi-finals will be contested on August 27, and first semi-finals on August 28.
Preliminary final day is set down for September 3.
Grand finals are on September 10.
Written by Nathan Dole.