Kangaroo Flat fill BFL's first vacancy
NEW Kangaroo Flat coach Jason Stevens' first priority is to secure the signature of the man he has replaced.
The Roos announced on Wednesday Stevens has been appointed to coach the Bendigo Football League club in 2014.
Stevens takes over from Tyrone Downie, who confirmed during the season he would be stepping down after two years at the helm.
Stevens' first point of call is to keep star forward Downie at Kangaroo Flat next year.
"He is priority number one," Stevens said.
"I've got a good relationship with Tigga, but we know he's going to get a lot of pressure from everywhere across central Victoria, not just from me.
"Whatever he decides to do, I'll support him in his decision. He has been loyal to the Kangaroo Flat Football Club and hopefully, he sticks around."
Stevens says it's an honour to be coaching Kangaroo Flat - a club he has ties with back to his childhood.
"I supported Kangaroo Flat when I was a kid and some of my first memories are being in their clubrooms," Stevens said.
"I've got a real soft spot for the club that goes back a long way."
Stevens previously spent four years as Kangaroo Flat's under-18 coach, before three years at Heathcote District Football League club White Hills, which included two seasons as Demons' senior coach in 2011 and 2012.
White Hills finished fourth and eighth in Stevens' two years as coach.
He returned to Kangaroo Flat this year as a development and assistant coach and football manager.
Stevens takes over as coach ahead of what will be a massive year for Kangaroo Flat, with the Roos to celebrate their 150th next season.
Kangaroo Flat finished on the bottom of the ladder this year, winning just two games.
"There's a lot of work to be done and we've got to make sure we retain the young players who are there," Stevens said.
"We think if we can bring in the right guys to help those young players and support them... guys with some experience and bigger bodies, that's what we want to do.
"But we've got to be able to do it sustainably and build it up.
"Our aim will be obviously to be competitive next year. Like every side, we'll be aiming for the finals, which is a big ask, but it's something to aim for and we'll see how we go."
Joining Stevens on the Roos' coaching panel will be gun midfielder Mitch Hough as an assistant.
President Rob Clohesy said the club expects the appointment of Stevens to be the beginning of the Roos' revival in the BFL.
Troy Cravino will coach the reserves again next year, while Ben Dyett remains in charge of the under-18s.
Pre-season training will start on November 15.