YOUTH development was front and centre for the Warrack Eagles in 2021, as the side aimed to put in place the building blocks of a successful future.
Eagles coach Daniel Bell said that one must look beyond the scoreboard when analysing the season.
"We're quite a young side, so the results probably speak to that, but we think it's a huge plus because we've had a lot of young kids play and the development in the young kids has been really, really pleasing," Bell said.
"The scoreboard might not reflect how well our season went, we've only had the one win against Nhill. But what's really pleasing is that development in our younger players."
Bell took over the role of senior coach at the Eagles midway through the season, when former senior coach Zach Holmes had to leave due to a job opportunity elsewhere.
Bell said the performance of the Eagles' younger players has been the highlight of his tenure as coach thus far, while the lowlight has been the COVID-19 disruptions throughout the season.
"We've had some bigger beatings, but not playing every game, from a bigger picture perspective, is the biggest lowlight of the year," he said.
"It was pretty hard, probably more so on the bodies, more than anything. Stopping one week and then coming back and flying the next and having two weeks off. We, like all clubs, had a fair few injuries,
"But it just is what it is at the moment. You just gotta deal with it."
The Eagles finished 2021 in ninth position on the ladder, below Nhill on percentage due to points allocated being for byes in a shortened season.
However, Bell said the season wasn't all bad for the Eagles.
"We had a win, a very close win actually, against Nhill which was a big plus. But an individual success was that we probably had consistently four under seventeens players play every weekend in the seniors," he said.
"To see them do a few good things and kick their first goals, was really pleasing to see throughout the year.
Bell singled out young guns Dane Stewart and Charlie Penny in particular for praise.
"Their improvement has gone through the roof and you would have found they were in the best most weeks.
"Another (player) is Corey Watts. He's actually our reserves' assistant coach and he's played nearly every game in seniors this year. He's really adapted well to senior footy."
Bell said that during the off season, recruitment and training will be a big focus for the Eagles.
"We're lacking a few talls, so we'll be out trying to recruit a few taller players within our side," he said.
"Then maybe even next year, we'll put a big focus into structures and how we want to move the footy in pre-season. We probably didn't do enough of that this year. Hopefully that will set us up really well going into 2022."
However, in the meantime the Eagles will reflect on 2021, celebrate the successes they have had and take a break before next year, Bell said.
"We're still pretty strong as a club, so it's about that supporting not only all those teams that are in the finals," he said.
"But even just for the senior group is just to finish off the season with a high and celebrate those successes that we have had and just having a bit of a break before getting into 2022."
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