NEW coach Jack Daley takes the reins of what should be a far more competitive Calivil United in the Loddon Valley league this year.
A club that is renowned for being at the pointy end of the ladder, the Demons are coming off an 8th-placed finish and a 2-9 record last year.
However, it will be a far more experienced Demons team that takes to the field this year given the busy recruiting campaign undertaken by Daley, who is taking on his first senior coaching gig.
Daley - a 2013 Golden Square premiership player in the Bendigo league - wasted no time in bulking up the Demons' list with a core of recruits who have all previously played with Huntly.
Joining midfielder/half-back Daley at the Demons are assistant coach Jacob Greenwood (forward), Blayne Ryan-Storey (midfielder), Phil Ryan (midfielder), Alex Daniels (ruckman), Lachlan Brook (wingman), Lachlan Mangan (midfielder), Ben Daley (forward/mid) and Jack Burns (centre half-back), who have all played with Huntly.
The Demons' haul of recruits also includes centre half-forward Mitch Deering and ruckman Corey Pearse in what will very much be a new-look team in 2022.
The key departure from last year is experienced midfielder Brady Childs, who was assistant coach and won the best and fairest.
Childs has signed with White Hills, while Sam Green and Luke Hall are also departures from the Demons.
"It's a bit of the unknown with so many new players, but it helps that we are all around a similar age," Daley said.
"Everyone is enjoying it, we've been training hard with good numbers, we're feeling really fit and it feels like it's coming together well.
Everyone is enjoying it, we've been training hard with good numbers, we're feeling really fit and it feels like it's coming together well- Jack Daley
"I'm quietly confident that we'll be improved and competitive this year... our aim is to try to push for the finals with the list we've put together.
"We'll be wanting to play a quick brand of footy because we're a young and fit side and we'll look to come through the middle where we can, take the game on and see where it can take us."
One of the deficiencies from last year the Demons will need to address was the side's scoring struggles.
Among the 11 games the Demons played last season were six where they were held to three goals or less.
"There was probably a better core of young players at the club than what the results showed last year," Daley said.
"One of those young players, Jed Thompson, has had a really big pre-season and is going to be our vice-captain and there's a few other young players who have got themselves really fit and are starting to come on.
"We're hoping to get 10 or 15 per cent improvement out of that young group... Tain Piercy, Mitch A'Vard and Lachie Mangan along with Jed are a few of those players who have had really good pre-seasons.
"We've got good numbers, we've picked up five new sponsors, we've got 11 new players and we'll get improvement out of the kids, so there's a really good feeling at the club going into the season.
"It's a really good group we've got."
By Kieran Iles
Coach: Karen Pascoe and Teigan Redwood
Placing when season ended last year: Third.
Arrivals: Hollie Alford, Jasmine Condliffe.
Departures: Christie Rogers, Tegan Elliston, Chelsea Hicks.
First game: v Inglewood (April 2) for non A-grade teams: at Bears Lagoon-Serpentine (April 9).
A season of definite change for perennial powerhouse Calivil United will come with some familiarity at the top.
The Demons will be coached by Karen Pascoe and Teigan Redwood, who will be reviving their partnership from the 2018 season, when they led the club to a grand final appearance against Bridgewater.
The pair replaces three-time Helen Ward medallist Christie Rogers, who won't be lining up for the Demons in 2022.
Her absence robs the side of plenty of experience and class in the goal circle, not to mention one of the LVFNL competition's stars.
Elsewhere on the playing front, the Demons have lost defender Tegan Elliston, but regained midcourter Hollie Alford, who returns after having a baby last year.
A major late pre-season addition is talented young defender Jasmine Condliffe, who comes across from Goulburn Valley league club Rochester.
"She is a very good netballer. Nice and tall, a great aerial defender. She will fit in with our side very well," said co-coach Pascoe.
With a few fresh faces poised to get an opportunity to impress, Pascoe predicted 2022 would be a year of development at Calivil.
"We will have a lot of our younger players, who will be coming up from our squad from last year," she said.
"We have a really good group of young girls. Lily Buckingham had a really good season in B-grade, so we hope to see her step up a little bit into the A-grade side in the midcourt.
"Teigan and I are really looking forward to working with young players, who are keen to improve and keen to develop.
"It will be a nice year to coach - they are a great bunch of girls and the aim would definitely be top five.
"Well, let's just hope we have finals this year."
Returning from last year's A-grade line-up are goal shooter Tia Steen, who performed brilliantly following her promotion from B-grade, steady defender Michelle Balic (runner-up in last year's best and fairest), experienced midcourter Jarileey Scholtes and young defensive midcourter Amy Ryan.
It goes without saying the loss of Rogers is an obvious blow.
"It's a massive blow. Her daughter is starting netball and she is stepping away to get involved in that," Pascoe said.
"We are hoping she might still play a game or two - that would be nice.
"We are finding there are a lot of girls stepping away from the game, but that is great for the young girls still coming up, it's their opportunity to grab it and run with it.
"We are lucky at Calivil, we do have a lot of quality juniors coming up and now it's their time to shine."
We are lucky at Calivil, we do have a lot of quality juniors coming up and now it's their time to shine- Karen Pascoe
Pascoe is hopeful the Demons will still have enough talent to be a finals contender.
"We still have a very good base there," she said.
"Losing Christie is massive. When you have a star like that in your team, it's very easy to just get her the ball and let her do her magic.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing Tia (Steen) step up and take the lead role in the ring. I think we will see good things from her this year."
Calivil United is holding out some hope Redwood, who has not played since injuring her Achilles during the 2018 season, may play on-court role later in the season.
The Demons will have a delayed start to the season with their scheduled round one opponent not fielding an A-grade team, and will only play only one game in the first four weeks of the season due to breaks and byes.
ROUND 1 - April 2
v Inglewood (h)
ROUND 2 - April 9
v Bears Lagoon-Serpentine (a)
ROUND 3 - April 23
ROUND 4 - April 30
v Mitiamo (h)
ROUND 5 - May 7
v Bridgewater (a)
ROUND 6 - May 14
v Maiden Gully YCW (h)
ROUND 7 - May 21
v Pyramid Hill (a)
ROUND 8 - May 28
v Marong (h)
ROUND 9 - June 4
v Newbridge (a)
ROUND 10 - June 18
v Inglewood (a)
ROUND 11 - June 25
v Bears Lagoon-Serpentine (h)
ROUND 12 - July 2
ROUND 13 - July 9
v Mitiamo (a)
ROUND 14 - July 16
v Bridgewater (h)
ROUND 15 - July 23
v Maiden Gully YCW (a)
ROUND 16 - July 30
v Pyramid Hill (h)
ROUND 17 - August 6
v Marong (a)
ROUND 18 - August 13
v Newbridge (h)
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