FOR the Horsham Demons, 2021 was a learning curve and a chance to see what they were capable of, according to coach Jordyn Burke.
Burke said that while the season was frustrating but held the Demons in good stead for the future.
"It's been frustrating at times, with the stop, start nature of it because with the age of our group, the more footy they play the better," Burke said.
Getting continuity has been been hard, but I've been really proud of the way the boys have responded to all the stops and starts.
"As the year went on we started to see what we were capable of."
Burke said he had to temper his original expectations of the season.
"It wasn't really a reflection on the groups, it was more so on me as a coach. I had to find the variations that suited us best and it took us a little bit longer to find where blokes were better suited than than I thought it would.
"But once we found the right set up, I've been super, super happy with the boys.
Horsham finished the year in sixth spot on the ladder, with five wins and seven losses. With a gutsy round 11 win over Dimboola being a highlight for Burke.
"The Dimboola game was a big highlight; the second Ararat game where we were challenged, but ending up winning was another one," Burke said.
"To see how the players have adapted to harder games has been exciting.
"I played 14 blokes in their first game. I probably wouldn't have expected to go that far with debutants but to be able to do that and still play really competitive footy has been really, really pleasing.
"In the second half of the year, you could see that (the debutants) have just become more comfortable level and that's comes to experience. Their outputs increasing every week. They've played outside their age.
Burke said another one of the most pleasing aspects of the young side was its commitment and persistence, even against seasoned opposition.
"We had a couple issues where we played some bad quarters, but we never got blown out of the water, which was just really pleasing," Burke said.
"Right up until the end we gave ourselves a chance to win and to be in a position to maybe sneak into the finals, that's what I'm really happy with."
Early losses cost the Demons, Burke said, with the loss to Ararat - after leading for much of the game - particularly stinging.
However, Burke said that even with some disappointing results, there were positives that came out of them.
"It's hard to look at those results too negatively because it's a big learning curve for the boys and they've done well from it."
Burke said that the development of junior players meant Horsham had a promising few years ahead of it.
"The ability to blood a lot of juniors means now we can look for a pretty big future," he said.
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