Burnside Heights’ development in Essendon District Football League division 2 looks set to continue this year.
Coming off the side’s best season in the club’s short history, the Bears are looking to rise up the ladder and hope to contend finals.
Bears coach Aidan Stott said it had been a promising off season.
“We’ve had an average of 45 players attend most sessions and about 65 in total have trained throughout,” he said.
“Fitness has been the biggest focus as it wasn’t where it needed to be to compete for four quarters last year, the players are really committed and understand the bar had to be raised if we were going to take the next step.
“We’ve also been able to tweak our game-plan a little due to some of the players we’ve brought in.”
Stott said part of the aim during the pre-season was to add some extra depth to the squad, as they look to have more than two wins for the year.
The club has added about 20 new faces to the overall squad, with Stott saying there would be a different line-up to last year.
Among the signings announced by the club on its social media are Adam Sullivan, Eyob Gebreselassie, Habib Hosni, Brandon Yankovski, Jordan Hughes and Michael Weaver.
Tom Sturgess, who is moving back to Bairnsdale, is the only key player to depart.
A bonus for the Bears is they will have an under-19 team this season after not having one last year.
Stott said they had about 26 under-19 players training with the senior squad and he expected some of those kids to push for senior spots.
He said while last year they showed they would no longer be easy beats, they had to take that next step and start winning more games.
“I personally don’t believe in honourable losses, which unfortunately we got tagged with a bit last year,” he said.
“We realistically should have won five or six more games last season but just didn’t lift in the key moments.
“Four of our losses came after we were leading mid-way through the last quarter and we think some of the talent we have added this year and the level of football they have played at, will stand up in those key moments this year.
“We won’t be satisfied with being competitive and expect to be playing finals like all seven other clubs. At this stage Coburg & Northern [Saints] are probably leading the pack slightly but the competition looks relatively even and we’re looking forward to getting stuck into it.”
The Bears start their season on April 7 against Keilor Park.