THE doom and gloom that surrounded Eaglehawk at the end of 2013 has gone and the club has a positive outlook for the 2014 BFNL season.
In October and November, much was made of the departure of star players Kain Robins, Matt Gretgrix, Tim Hill (Mount Pleasant), Darcy Richards, Tony Plim and Tyson Findlay (North Bendigo).
Since then star midfielder Lucas Matthews (Koondrook) and back-up ruckman Matt Willox (set to sign with Charlton) have been added to the departure list.
While most Bendigo football fans expect the Hawks to slide down the ladder in 2014, coach Luke Monaghan expects his side to remain a force.
Monaghan confirmed on Thursday that one of Eaglehawk's favourite sons, Damien Lock, will return to the Hawks as a playing assistant coach.
Lock headlines a list of 10 recruits Monaghan has signed for 2014.
Rochester utility Shaun Williams, Mooroopna trio Callan Baldwin, Jamaal Cross, Daniel Johnstone and Lockington-Bamawm United premiership players Hayden and Jesse Collins are six young recruits Monaghan has high hopes for.
Full-forward Matt Gilmore (Mt Pleasant), midfielder Ricky Dudley (North Bendigo) have joined Lock in returning to their home club.
Bendigo Gold's Riley McIvor has realigned himself with the Hawks, having been aligned with Wedderburn in the NCFL in 2013.
"We have a very young side and we've recruited younger players as well,'' Monaghan said.
"So getting an experienced player like Locky back to the club to help me out on game day on the field and off the field at training is great.
"He's coached senior footy himself the past few years at North Bendigo and his experience around the place will be valuable."
Williams is a 20-year-old who spent the past two season in the Rochester seniors.
Daniel Johnstone (centre half-forward), Jamaal Cross (utility) and Callan Baldwin (midfielder) join the Hawks with their best football in front of them.
Baldwin played seven senior games for Mooroopna in 2013, while Johnstone and Cross played one senior game each.
"Williams could play midfield, a lead-up forward or across half-back,'' Monaghan said.
"He's played about 40 senior games in a very strong side, so he will be a good player for us.
"Johnstone can play key position at both ends of the ground and Baldwin will be used through the middle.
"All three of them are in Bendigo for university or work and we think they'll develop into good players.
"Hayden and Jesse Collins can both run through the midfield and they have premiership experience."
Gilmore kicked 48 goals for the Hawks in 2011 before struggling for form and confidence in 2012.
He left the club at the end of 2012 to play with Mount Pleasant in the HDFL where he kicked 59 goals in 16 games.
"Matty Gilmore has a point to prove that he's more than capable of holding down full-forward,'' Monaghan said.
"He's keen to put in a big pre-season."
With the prospect of two more recruits to join the club before the start of the season, Monaghan said the Hawks were excited about the prospect of proving people wrong in 2014.
"We're much happier with the position we're in now,'' Monaghan said.
"Obviously it's tough to replace the quality players we lost, but the good thing for the club was the depth we've created in the past year or two.
"As well as the recruits, we're going to put some faith in the young locals coming through.
"There's going to be a good opportunity for the 19 to 21-year-olds, who have been biding their time in the reserves the past year or two, to get their chance in senior footy.
"That's exciting for the club.
"We're confident with where we sit going into the 2014 season."