Matt Plathe to lead Bendigo Dragons in 2017 Gridiron Victoria season

IT MIGHT be a new season and with a new head coach, but a return to play-offs will remain the focus for the Bendigo Dragons when their Gridiron Victoria season kicks off on Sunday.

After a four month pre-season, the Dragons will hit the field for the first time against the Northern Raiders at Tom Flood Sports Centre.

It will be the first of three home games for the team this season and the first as head-coach for Dragons stalwart Matt Plathe, who was announced as coach only last weekend.

It will be a special day in more ways than one for Plathe, who alongside fellow five-year veteran Thomas Prince, will become the first Dragons players to reach 50 games.

Plathe, who will take his place on the offensive line as a playing coach, said he was honoured to be leading the Dragons.

"It was a bit unexpected, but we're ready to step up to the challenge," he said.

"I have got a great team of guys to support me, so it should be a good season.

"It's not a position you take on lightly and it comes with a lot of extra responsibilty, but I'm happy to be someone who can support the club."

Plathe takes over from former coach Mike Hughes, who led the team to the playoffs in both his seasons at the helm, but did not seek reappointment.

Payback will be on the minds of the Dragons in their season opener, following their division two preliminary final elimination at the hands of the Raiders last October.

This year's team will include plenty of fresh faces and a few key positional changes.

Lucas Elliston, who was named in the division two All-Victorian team in 2015, will move from quarterback to wide receiver.

That has paved the way for Prince to become the Dragons' signal-caller, after he was named All-Victorian last season as a kicker.

Prince, who like Plathe has missed just one game through injury during the Dragons' tenure in the Gridiron Victoria league, said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading the team.

"It was probably more so out of a need, our previous quarterback was looking to change things up and play a different position," he said.

"When that happened we put our heads together to see who could step up and gave a few guys a chance, I guess I was the one who could prove himself.

"I am pretty lucky to be in this position."

Plathe was confident Prince would make the position his own, starting against the Raiders.

Sunday's game starts at 1pm.

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