Darley’s young guns will be a key factor in the side’s fortunes in the Ballarat Football League this season.
While the Devils have had some player changes with departures and inclusions, coach Heath Scotland said he was most excited about what the younger players can do.
Several players made their debuts last season and this year they’re looking to hold down their spots.
“The growth from the kids underneath will be the key for us,” Scotland said.
“We got games into young players last season and its held us in good stead.
“They’ve been training really well. We had eight debut last season and six look like holding down their own spots.”
Scotland highlighted players such as Andrew Azzopardi, Blake Colley, Joel Cadman, Jack Bewley and Duncan Cadman as those who have taken their games to another level in the pre-season.
Jai Dodemaide and Nash Reynolds should also be in the running when not playing for the Western Jets.
Scotland said he was happy with the list heading into the season.
He said they felt they had covered the departures well and were a stronger side than 12 months ago.
Henderson Medal winner Steve Kennedy is the biggest out and he is joined by Dylan Reid, Abe Kur, Luke Delahey and Dan Roy, while Rhys Ellis is travelling.
Former Carlton player Nick Graham was an big early signing for the Devils.
Trent Angwin comes across from cross rival Bacchus Marsh, while Casey Young will provide a key target up forward.
VFL-listed Josh Pickess along with Sam Hitchings and former Bendigo Pioneers player Bailey Waasdorp have also come across.
Nicholas Thacker, who played in the 2017 premiership, has verbally agreed to return.
“Steve Kennedy is a big loss for us, but Nick Graham is probably a better player, a little more balanced,” Scotland said
“We’ve been able to fill the roles of Abe and Dylan in the ruck internally.
“Who we have lost, I feel like we have replaced with better players.”
Scotland said there could still be a couple more signings before the season starts.
Scotland is planning to pull on the boots again this season, joking he was starting to feel like John Farnham with so many comebacks.
He said playing in the club’s 100th year was a privilege.
“The 100-year celebration is a nice one to finish the playing career on,” he said.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate the proud history of the club which has produced 21 or 22 flags.
“We’ve got lots of events happening … Hopefully we hold up our end.”
The Devils start their season on April 13 against the Sunbury Lions.
After a disappointing end last season, Scotland said they were keen to have another crack.
“We were confident in where we were last season and felt with our best side, we had the team to win the flag.
“We got taught a lesson in the preliminary final.
“If we keep the best players … our list is as good as anyone’s. We’re confident in what we can produce.”
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