The Calder Cannons are expecting a more even spread from their top age players in the upcoming TAC Cup.
The Cannons, who finished eighth last season, kick off this year’s season on Friday night under lights against Eastern Ranges.
After a solid three to four months on the track, Cannons coach Andrew Johnston said the team is raring to get on the park.
“I think we have a more even top age group this year and there’s probably not one or two that stand out in front of the pack,” Johnston said.
“You’ve got the guys like Brad Bernacki, who was third in the best and fairest last year, and Ben Caluzzi, who played quite a few games, and you’d hope those guys would step up.
“[We’re] Looking forward to the whole group improving in some way. The nature of the competition is you have to improve week to week, month to month.”
Cannons coach Andrew Johnston said they had an even mix of top and bottom age players this season.
“It’s about 50-50,” he said.
“There’s 27, 17-year-olds and 26, 18-year-olds with a couple of 19-year-olds listed, which is really pleasing.
“We’ve got some good 17 year-olds who are going to push up for selection for the first round and it puts more pressure on the 18 and 19-year-olds, which we think as a group they need to be doing.”
He said 19-year-old Jean-Luc Velissaris and Aidan Tilley would benefit from another year in the TAC system. Both boys played several games last season and Johnston was hopeful they would play a couple of VFL games this season.
There are a few familiar names among the bottom-age players including Rhylee West, son of champion Western Bulldogs midfielder Scott West, and Mason Fletcher, son of Essendon 400-game player Dustin Fletcher.
Ty Browning (Craigieburn) and Curtis Taylor (Keilor) are another two bottom-age players to watch. Both played in senior Essendon District Football League premierships last season.
The Cannons are hoping Mitchell Podhajski can step up this season.
The defender played eight games last season as a bottom-age player.
“Last year coming into the backline for the first time ever it was a big learning experience and it took me quite a while to get used to the speed and what was required as a backman,” Podhajski said.
“This year, playing predominantly as a backman will allow me to help others who might be in the same position as me and help them get used to the standard of play quicker.
“As I’ve played and had the experience and know what Johnno and Russ try to force into us and try to help the young kids better.”
The Cannons start their season on Friday night against Eastern Ranges at RAMS Arena, Craigieburn.