Victorian school football update June edition

WE ARE at the midterm break into the APS and AGSV school boy Victorian football competitions and Matt Balmer delves deeper into which prospects have performed well in the school season.

The old saying that “If you’re good enough, recruiters will find you, no matter where you play” rings true in the Victoria school football competition where players such as Jayden Hunt (Melbourne) and Oliver Hanrahan (Hawthorn) have been plucked out of the school boy competition without playing TAC Cup. As Hunt’s 31-game career has shown, it is not the be all and end all if players aren’t selected in the pathways as we once knew it.


Haileybury College has all but wrapped up the APS premiership – barring losses to both St Kevins and Geelong Grammar in their final two games. Possible number one pick Luke Davies-Uniacke has been the star through the midfield. His ability to clear the ball by hand and foot when being tackled is phenomenal and he has been able to beat any tagger sent to him. Against Scotch, he showed he could use the ball off either feet with a pinpoint left foot kick into the corridor, while against Geelong College he had 44 disposals. Davies-Uniacke had a tough day in the ‘Grand Final’ against Carey, tagged and getting bumped around the ground by the Carey players who did all they could to stop him. It did result in some shaky footwork but he was still able to find more than 25 disposals. Max King has returned from injury with 10 goals in the last three games, as one of their standouts in Saturday’s game doing his 2018 no.1 pick chances no harm. Twin brother Ben too has remained up forward slotting a bag of six against Caulfield Grammar and whilst he gets better each game up forward – he should hold down a key position defender slot in his draft year.

Charlie Constable had more than 30 disposals against Carey and played his best football as a general defender with stints in the midfield, while captain Andrew Brayshaw has nursed a quad injury but should put his hand up for Vic Metro selection soon. Jackson Ross continues to play a nice role on the wing and across half forward, while it has been Jack McHale who has caught the eye of a few clubs in defence. Oscar Clavarino has been solid often intercepting off half-back, but Scotch’s Will Sutherland clunked a beautiful mark over him in their clash. One name that bobbed up from the weekend was Adam Schache who did some nice things – but Aiden Bonar might just be one of the best of the lot and should excite when he returns from a long term injury soon.

(We’ll have a full report on the Carey vs. Haileybury game online later this week) 

Carey Grammar’s undefeated run came to an end on Saturday – but they put up a fight against Haileybury College. Year 10 Matthew Rowell is a star and is highly touted for the 2019 draft. Rowell wins the ball through the midfield and has been named as Vic Metro U16 captain. Cooper Leon was one of Carey’s best against Scotch and Caulfield, finding the football right around the ground and using it well on his right foot. Captain Charlie Thompson wins the football in the midfield and was a big reason Carey got back into the game against Scotch, while Ed Richards has been impressive with his run and carry a highlight before using it on his long left foot. Oliver Simpson impressed in the game on Saturday and is a playing to watch for next year.

At the ‘Snakepit,’ St Kevin’s have had to fight hard with star midfielders Lachlan Fogarty and Rhylee West nursing injuries. It has meant that youngsters James Rowbottom and Jack Mahony have had to step up in the midfield, with under 16 Mahony tipped to be a star of the future. Kane O’Halloran has been their most important forward kicking some strong goals, while Cam Hodges is putting together some solid form this season and would be in consideration for the APS team of the season.

Scotch’s Will Sutherland continues to get the plaudits playing superb football as a key target up forward and spending time in the midfield, with one recruiter drawring comparisons to Marcus Bontempelli. He has been named in the Vic Metro squad and expect him to line up this weekend in their clash against Vic Country. Against Carey, he clunked nine marks (five contested) and booted three goals as the clear best on ground in the first half. Against Haileybury, some of his marks were outstanding and spent more time in the midfield than he did against Carey. Noah Croes made a few recruiters jot some notes down, with a nice mark in defensive 50 catching the eye against Haileybury. Croes is another good cricketer who won their best and fairest as a Year 11 and is playing good football across half back using his smarts. Vic Metro Under 16 Finn Maginness has missed games through injury, while Joel Garner has predominantly played across half forward – not attending a single centre bounce against Carey and Haileybury. Garner has a defining moment against Scotch, winning a two-on-one inside 50 and banging home the goal on his left foot. Ruckman Will Clark was one of their best in a close loss to Carey, clunking marks around the ground.

Brighton Grammar and Melbourne Grammar took part in the first ‘Pride match’ at Todd Road in May. Brighton midfielders Seb Williams and Alfie Jarnestrom played strong games in the midfield. Williams has been a big ball winner in the APS competition using his speed and agility to get around opponents with ease – racking up more than 40 disposals in two of his games. Victorian Under 19 cricketer Nathan Murphy has caught the eye and there has been plenty of interest at club land. The 188cm medium utility has looked at home in his new role up forward, clunking marks finishing with five goals against Wesley, with nearly all clubs having a scout in attendance. Murphy has a long kick and has been a late addition to the Sandringham Dragons squad. North Melbourne 2018 father-son prospect Joel Crocker has been outstanding coming out of defensive 50 possessing great agility.

Out at Flack Park, Melbourne Grammar led the ‘Pride match’ in front of a strong crowd with guest speaker Jason Ball speaking to the crowd before the contest. On the results front, it was not a great day for Melbourne going down to Brighton by 14 points. Charlie Spargo was well held with a quiet day – but did fight hard in the last quarter with some good lateral movement willing his teammates to try and turn around their three-quarter time margin. Up forward, Oscar Dowd has been one of their best – while Kyle Dunkley and Harry Bede are two others who have put together a strong month.

Caulfield Grammar has some draftable players with Vic Metro midfielders Dylan Moore and Trent Mynott, pushing themselves into draftable conversations after superb seasons at all levels. Captain Lachlan Harris played his best game of the season with 41 disposals against Geelong Grammar, tall forward Isaac Morrisby has fired into form with bags of five and four against St Kevin’s and Geelong Grammar respectively. Jackson Hille returned from an early season injury at the Dragons and has worked his way into the year with a good game finding 25 disposals on Saturday. Year 9 boy Will Phillips starred with 31 disposals and a goal vs. Geelong Grammar & will be a name to keep an eye on.

Geelong Grammar has disappointed results wise, but have some elite talent in Year 11 and Year 12. Jarrod Brander missed their clash with Caulfield due to Allies commitments, but up forward he was the difference in their victory over arch-rivals Geelong College. Brander turned the game on its head with a superb third quarter, with his marking and kicking under pressure a class above kicking five goals for the game. Bottom-ager Jye Caldwell has been impressive, with one draft watcher on declaring the star could contend for a top five pick in 2018. Paddy Dow has shown off his speed from the stoppages pushing himself into top ten calculations, giving his heart and soul through the midfield crashing in, getting it forward and hitting the scoreboard. The 184cm midfielder booted a bag of seven against Wesley College in Round 5. Lochie O’Brien has been tagged out of a few games with a rough start to the year – but expect him to show his class at the Under 18 Championships and the Bendigo Pioneers when he returns from injury. Jarrod Walters has also been another players well lately.

Geelong College went down in the local derby, but fought hard in a close loss to Melbourne Grammar on the weekend. Ed McHenry was outstanding for Vic Country and has been one of their best, with the lively player showing his tricks in the midfield. Jack Henderson has won plenty of football in the midfield and no doubt is leading their best and fairest. Henderson also clunked ‘APS Mark of the Year’ in the derby (See tweet below). Geelong 2018 father-son Oscar Brownless has worked his way into the season putting together some solid form.

Xavier’s Anthony Zimmerman is using his elite speed and goal smarts to good use, hitting the scoreboard. Bailey Smith was solid in the Vic Metro U17 Futures game and has been a strong performer in the midfield and rebounding across half back. Laitham Vandermeer is another who has been great for Xavier and would be a contender for their best player of the season. Changkuoth Jiath (CJ) has been exciting and his moments of flashes are simply eyecatching, often using his good athletic leap to clunk marks.  Australia Under 19 cricket speed demon Zak “Cherry” Evans has been a standout for Xavier – and could easily follow the football pathway should he wish. Evans booted two goals in the opening quarter on Saturday and is playing well. Charlie Whitehead, Jack Hewitt and Jeremy Lucas have been other good contributors for the Xavs.

Adam Cerra has nursed a shoulder injury at times for Wesley – but was a star in Vic Metro’s opening win of the National Under 18 Championships. Cerra spent most of the game against Brighton playing forward with his shoulder heavily strapped, and could’ve easily booted three goals in the opening quarter had he taken his chances. He used his speed to get distance between himself and opponents, taking a few good marks overhead. Charlie Dean impressed as a tall for Vic Metro Under 16 and has been good for Wesley. Oscar Bennett has been a strong APS player over recent years and has been solid playing mostly in defence. Adam Collinson has been another who has shown draftable traits through the midfield competiting well in the stoppages. While Bo James‘ impressive games left a one veteran recruiter scrambling to find out his date of birth for draft eligibility.

Over the in AGSV competition, Marcellin sit undefeated on top and have locked down the minor premiership spot.

Alex Federico is Marcellin’s best draft prospect and has been great through the midfield and dropping back to help the defence. His composure with ball in hand is good. Patrick Della Rocca is too powerful and strong for most opponents, with broad shoulder and a strong build helping the bottom-ager inside 50. Josh Posar impressed around the ground, finding plenty of the ball and marking uncontested on multiple occassions. It was however Riley Loton’s first half that would’ve had his name circled, using his nice left foot on the wing to power the ball forward. Christian Farchione used it well at times on his left foot, while Ben Wiggins provided a contest inside 50 as a marking target.

Mentone fought hard in their loss to Marcellin, unable to stay with them for long enough. Ed Newman looms as the most draftable player, playing across half back and through the midfield. The Victorian Under 19 cricketer will have a tough decision on his hands – recently added to the Sandringham Dragons squad, but if he picks the football path I have no doubt a club would strongly consider him. Newman booted a good running goal in the third quarter on his left foot. Kai Owens impressed on the wing, finding plenty of the ball and is okay on his right foot. Joel Amartey was played out of position, with most of the game inside 50 as their tall target rather than in the ruck. The first bounce saw the ex-basketballer leap over his Marcellin opponent and win the tap, but up forward didn’t read the flight of the ball great. Devlin Brereton is fast on his feet, with good agility and caused trouble at times for Marcellin defenders. Year 10 Jai Florent bagged a good goal in the third quarter, while Tom Yorgey and Lewis Diggins are willing to crack in hard and fly the flag for their teammates.

PEGS have the top prospect from the AGSV with Cameron Rayner a strong performer in Vic Metro’s win on Sunday. Rayner has been solid without starring for PEGS, but returned to form with an outstanding game against Mentone with over 30 disposals and multiple strong contested marks showing off what many saw him do as Year 11 for school. Curtis Taylor has come back from injury and been another great performer, seeing him earn selection in the Vic Metro side. PEGS did miss the ‘dynamic duo’ on Saturday, with Peninsula pulling off a great win at home.

Patrick Naish is playing good football for Ivanhoe, booting a few goals against a weak Trinity team and a strong Mentone team. Naish had some extra attention from the Mentone midfielders, but still was okay. Seems to relish playing out at Chelmsworth Park (Ivanhoe’s home ground) where he has played some brilliant games over the last few years. Max Dreher missed the game against Mentone – but has been another solid performer on the inside and across defence.

Peninsula pulled off an unexpected win against PEGS, but won’t qualify for AGSV finals. They have got a good crop of young Dandenong Stingrays and as I eluded to in the previous update, Jai Taylor and Will Antonie are the two worth keeping an eye on.

Ryley Stoddart is Yarra Valley’s best player and starred with a big bag of goals against the winless Camberwell. Stoddart is a clean ball user on his left foot and was good for Vic Metro on the weekend. For Assumption, Shane Skidmore has been impressive and put in a solid performance for Vic Metro in the Under 17 Futures clash. Trinity and Camberwell have struggled so far this season and both hold the clear bottom two positions – despite Trinity pushing Ivanhoe for a draw earlier in the season.

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