NEW Maiden Gully YCW Eagles coach Wayne Mitrovic has set the bar at a return to the Loddon Valley finals in his first season at the helm.
The Eagles haven’t played finals since 2011 when they were beaten by two points by Pyramid Hill in the preliminary final following a last-minute goal to the Bulldogs’ Gavin James.
Since the heartbreak of 2011 the Eagles have won no more than five games in a season over the past six years and finished second-last each of the past three.
Mitrovic, whose appointment was announced in October, has taken on the role with a strong desire to lead the Eagles back up the ladder and into September.
“With the move out to the new facility at Marist College and a few years now of being down, it’s not good enough and we’ve got to be making the five,” Mitrovic said.
“From only winning three games and finishing second-bottom last year, we’ve got to look to be winning somewhere from at least eight to 10 games this year to try to get that fifth spot.
“We’ve signed 10 players and I’m confident of getting another one or two. I think with the new players we’re bringing in that getting a spot in the five is an achievable goal.”
Joining the Eagles this year are three players from Bendigo league club Kangaroo Flat – Clint Angove (ruck), Hamish McCartney (half-back/wing) and Carl Rohde (defender).
Thomas Jehle (forward) and Josh Robinson (key position player) have also joined the Eagles from Hoppers Crossing, while Ryan Walker (midfield) and Daine Lowry (midfield/forward) are returning to the club.
Since leaving the Eagles Lowry has played in Nagambie’s 2016 and 2017 Kyabram District league premierships, while Walker has spent the past two years playing with Merbein.
Lowry is the last player to have kicked a double-figure bag of goals for the Eagles, having booted 10 against Inglewood in round 18, 2013 – the same season Jehle played three games for the club.
The recruits to the Eagles also include Mitrovic’s 2010 Wycheproof-Narraport premiership team-mate Joe Coatsworth, who will add some experience, as well as ex-North Bendigo tall Tyson Cope.
“We’ve also got 10 players coming out of the under-18s from last year who will be pushing for a senior spot, so things are looking up,” Mitrovic said.
One of the key areas Mitrovic – who joins the Eagles from Sandhurst – will be looking for improvement in is scoring efficiency.
Only Natnael McLaren (21) kicked more than 20 goals last year, while just once in the previous three seasons have the Eagles scored more than 100.
“We’ve got a whole new spine, so what that will mean is guys like Cohen Kekich, Brayden Aitken and Naty McLaren can push out to the flanks and wings and we can get some bigger bodies into our key positions,” Mitrovic said.
Mitrovic says the only departures from last year are Pat Cummins and Matthew Roberts.
Roberts has joined White Hills, where former Eagles coach Daniel Francis is now an assistant to Brent Millar.
The Eagles play BL-Serpentine in round one.