AFTER much disappointment over the last couple of years, the Central Highlands Football League is aiming to bounce back as they look to climb up the AFL Victoria Community Championship rankings.
Currently ranked 25th out of 32 leagues, the Highlanders host the 23rd placed North Central Football League this Saturday afternoon at Learmonth, after opting to withdraw from a much anticipated double-header at Mars Stadium.
The aftermath of a shock three-point loss to the Riddell Football League last year has resulted in a coaching shuffle with Bungaree’s, Heath Pyke, and Beaufort’s, Rohan Brown, taking on the senior job together as co-coaches.
Brown described himself and Pyke as ‘good mates’ and said, “It has been great getting a joint coach role, purely as we get two perspectives, but ultimately we are on the same page in where we want to head.”
Being ranked so low is clearly something that the Highlanders have put a focus on improving, as there is plenty of belief in the talent in this particular squad, but also right across the league.
“We have been pretty disappointing in the last fair few years and we just thought, myself and Pykey particularly, that we are in a spot now where we don’t think we are ranked 25th and where we think we are ranked top 15 and even top 10 and the best way in doing that is backing the young talent we have” Brown said.
Many pundits will notice plenty those fresh faces in the squad are the likes of Dean O’Brien, Tom Nash and Tim Collins who are getting the call-up for the first time for senior interleague footy.
Brown went on to say that this decision was on the basis of that, “We wanted to be youthful and pick guys that wanted to have a crack… there is a lot of older guys who have had their time in rep footy so we decided we would come in with a fresher approach and give guys like a Tim Collins an opportunity to debut on Saturday.”
Both Brown and Pyke have a personal connection to North Central, with Brown being from Donald and Pyke having close family ties to the Sea Lake Nandaly Tigers.
The joint coaches will be looking use any previous knowledge that they might have about the North Central Football League and all their experience to try and secure the Highlanders first win in rep footy in quite some time.
CHFL Interleague Squad – Beaufort: Levi Cox, Mitch Jenkins, Brendan Howard, Lachlan Murray – Buninyong: Lachie Baker, Jack Robertson, Jarrod Rodgers, Liam Rigby, Jake Dunne – Carngham- Linton: Dean O’Brien – Daylesford: Zac Tisdale, Dunnstown: Harry McKimmie, Tim Collins – Gordon: Mark Gunnell, Luke Gunnell, Taylem Watson, Zac May – Hepburn: Sam Dunstan – Learmonth: Anthony Zelencich – Newlyn: Dan Wehrung – Skipton: Andrew Pitson – Springbank: Jonathan O’Brien – Waubra: Dean Robertson, Lincoln Barnes, Tom Nash, Andrew Wettenhall