As far as opening round matches go, it does not get any tougher for Caroline Springs in the Western Region Football League division 1.
The Lakers face record-breaking six-time defending champions Deer Park on the day they unfurl their latest premiership flag at John McLeod Oval this Saturday.
Instead of being daunted by the challenge, the Lakers are embracing it and even want to make the first round fixture between the neighbouring clubs a permanent one.
“We requested to play Deer Park in round one because it’s good for the local community with the clubs being so close to each other,” Lakers football director Marc Raak said.
Caroline Springs will enter the new season merely seeking improvement from the last.
It will be the Lakers’ third season in the top-flight after two wins in their promotion season in 2017 and four wins last year.
Raak has forecast “six to eight wins” as a pass mark, but is not putting a ceiling on what the Lakers can achieve.
He said he was confident the Lakers are better placed than 12 months ago.
“I believe we’re fitter and a bit stronger than what we were last year,” he said.
“Our 21 and 22-year-olds have had another good pre-season under our coach Brodie Holland.
“We’ve topped up with a few key players to make us stronger across all lines.”
What Caroline Springs will not do is succumb to quick fixes.
The Lakers added experienced players such as Stephen Brewer, Tyson Mihocek and Craig Searle, but there will remain a focus on developing the youngsters.
“I’ve always believed that we take the stairs and not the elevator to success,” Raak said.
“We want to put a lot of faith in our kids that have come through the system.
“We hope we will see the results come over the next two to five years.”
Raak is proud of Caroline Springs’ junior program.
He is keenly monitoring the development of the elite juniors coming through the system at Town Centre Oval.
“I look at our junior program and we’ve got more than a dozen kids playing seniors,” Raak said.
In other division 1 games, St Albans will travel to newly promoted Point Cook, Sunshine has a tough away date with Spotswood, Albion will hit the road to face Werribee Districts and the match of the round will see last year’s minor premiers Altona host Hoppers Crossing.
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