HUNTLY loomed all season as the team best equipped to take on Heathcote District Football League power Lockington-Bamawm United.
Early in Saturday's grand final at Elmore they proved it, but by the final siren the Cats had flexed their muscle and brushed the Hawks aside by 58 points.
The 15.13 (103) to 6.9 (45) defeat in what was Huntly's first HDFL grand final will sting for some time, but the sight of the Hawks playing on grand final day was a far cry from two years ago when they claimed their 10th wooden spoon in a row.
They've taken massive steps forward in the past two years.
However, they were found wanting on the big stage of the grand final.
Their skills by foot wilted under the pressure of the Cats, they squandered the chance early to put scoreboard pressure on when they kicked 1.7 in the first term, and by the last quarter couldn't compete with the fresher legs of LBU.
"For the group to have gone from wooden-spooners two years ago to finals last year and now a grand final, we can still see there's a big step to get the ultimate success," Hawks' coach Stacy Fiske said.
"I couldn't be more prouder of the boys. They fought it out, but to LBU's credit, they are the ultimate team and know how to win on these days. They've been there and done it before."
Fiske was the Hawks' best player, leading by example. He never stopped trying in the midfield and kicked the opening goal of the game with the first kick of the match.
Fellow onballers Cory Lobb (two goals) and Tom Curry, full-back Alex Demeo, who held Cats' coach Kahl Oliver to one goal, and Adam Wicks were others in the Hawks' best players.