North Central Football League
THREE North Central Football League sides Birchip-Watchem, Wycheproof-Narraport and Charlton will aim to start their 2014 campaigns with a bang tomorrow.
The Bulls will begin at home against St Arnaud, the Demons will host reigning premier Wedderburn and the Navy Blues will visit Boort.
North Central general manager Lance Standfield said he thought the Bulls would bounce back after finishing last in 2013, but would face a tough opening challenge against the Saints.
"Birchip-Watchem has recruited really well and St Arnaud had a really good win last week," he said. "Birchip-Watchem has put in a big effort over the summer to lift itself up.
"St Arnaud is in its third year under James McNamee - they kicked 22 goals last week so the Saints had a fair bit of the ball."
Among the inclusions for the Bulls are coach Tom Carland and a host of players from the Essendon District Football League, including former Western Jets TAC Cup player Dan Castellano, Josh Booth and John Barnard.
The Saints will be flying high after an opening round win against Donald, with Daniel Needs slotting six goals and Nathan Brown four.
At Boort Park, the Magpies will look to bounce back from an opening round loss to the Redbacks against Charlton.
The Navy Blues will be under the tutelage of Aaron Walklate - a former Boort coach - for the first time.
Standfield said it should be an even contest, with the Navy Blues among the fastest sides in the league and the Magpies putting in a tough performance at the weekend.
Rick Easton, Cam Millward and North Ballarat Roosters VFL-listed player James Keeble had a big influence for the Magpies at the weekend, while the Navy Blues have picked up players including James Baird, Travis Baird and Mathew Willox from the Bendigo Football League.
Wycheproof-Narraport will have its work cut out against the Redbacks at home, especially without regining Feeny Medallist Corey Jones.
The Demons have been quiet on the recruiting front, but will have new co-coaches in Boe Bish and Ricky Allan.
The Redbacks continued where they left off last season by accounting for the Magpies by 41 points at the weekend, with Sam Barnes, nine goals, and Brady Herdman, four goals, both having a big impact.