QAFL Season Preview – Sherwood

Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend

The Pies come into the 2023 season filled with confidence and rejuvenation after a big pre-season and determination to overcome a disappointing 2022 season.

Sherwood was on track to improve on its 2021 season, a year that saw the team take down some major scalps and showcase some tremendous development inside its younger players. Last year proved to be unforgettable from the outset after some major losses to the Sharks and the Hornets that put the playing group on the backfoot early.

The results were not the biggest concern for the group however; as injuries to key players in their best dozen players took a lot of strength out of its midfield, defense and forward line that put pressure on younger players to step up and play key roles inside the first month against heavy-hitting teams.

Coach Adrian Fletcher worked hard with the cattle that he had and used the season to further develop the junior players and put quality experience into them. He was realistic from the outset that younger bodies would struggle to run out four quarters against the better teams but little victories throughout the game would be used to boost their confidence.

A solid run late in the season had Sherwood upstage a red-hot Noosa by three-goals in Round 13, go within four-goals of the Sharks, take down the Panthers on the road before ending the Gorillas finals’ hopes in Round 18. That stretched was a key indicator that the playing group strengthened with experience and the performance at the end of the season was far greater than the start; now giving hope to supporters in 2023.

The Pies will be coached by Jarad Marsh who is in his first season in the role. Marsh was previously the head Senior coach at Sandgate. He was close to being appointed coach of the team in 2020 before electing to work with Aspley in the NEAFL/VFL/QAFL from 2020 to 2022. Needless to say that his three seasons at the Hornets provided some valuable experience and was part of a successful QAFL premiership team in 2022.

Marsh has some quality personnel supporting him as assistant coaches.  Adam Boon (Level 3 Coach, Previously Mt Gravatt Senior Coach and Redland Assistant), Brett McEvoy (Level 3 Coach, Sherwood Life Member, Lions Academy Midfield coach 5+ years), John Soccio (Moreton Bay Lions Senior Coach – 3-peat Senior Flags and a Colts Flag prior to that), Corey Massingham (Mayne Division 1 Line Coach) and Todd Reid (previous involvement across various QAFL and QFA clubs)

PAT MCCARTHY – Lions/North VFL & Aspley – at 25-years-old, he is a key position player. He kicked more than 30 goals for Aspley in 2022 but missed out on finals after losing his spot in side due to a VFL game and not forcing his way back in. 

Pat Moved to Sherwood due to familiarity with some of the Lions VFL boys from last year.

WILL FLETCHER – he gave up his spot in the Brisbane Lions VFL team to be with Sherwood permanently in 2023.  He is considered a recruit as he will play with the Pies full-time; and has won the club’s last three best and fairest awards including 2022 despite splitting his time between VFL and QAFL. He is one of the premier midfielders in the competition.

IZAK GEJAS – at just 18-years-old, Izak crosses to the club after playing Senior footy for North Albury in the Ovens and Murray League last year as a 17-year-old. Originally from Aspley, he stands at  195cm tall and is a utility that is lightening quick and can play anywhere.

JOHN BAKER – the 19-year-old returns to Sherwood after spending a year in the QFA playing Friday nights with Jimboomba.  He was a star for Sherwood in 2021 highlighted by his last game at QAFL level that produced a six-goal, 30+ disposal effort in 71-point win against reigning premiers Morningside before the lockdown. John is an elite talent through midfield/half forward.

ALEX DICKFOS – a 2012 Senior Premiership player as an 18-year-old, he kicked 120 goals across the 2015 and 2016 seasobs in the QAFL before travelling overseas.  Has spent the past two seasons in Sherwood’s QFA side regaining fitness, and kicking over 150 goals. At 29, he has decided to return to the QAFL and has had a great pre-season.

LACHLAN WOODS – a former captain and 2012 Premiership player, Lachlan has been a past member in the QAFL team of the year and stopped playing due to relocating north for country service becoming a fire fighter. He is back in the local area and the 30-year-old former captain with more than 100 games of  Senior experience will be vital to the young group.
Key outs
JOSH COOMBES – he has given footy away to work at Aspley as its Strength & Conditioning coach. He missed the opening six weeks of the 2022 season with injury before returning and winning the club’s goal kicking, with multiple hauls of five-goals and being a key target.

LUCA WINTON – the 2022 Club captain, missed most of 2022 with injury and his body isn’t coming up at this stage. A return to the team in 2023 is unlikely.

Young players to watch coming up through the Colts that could play Senior football
OWEN CAPLING – exciting athletic prospect from Wests juniors who had a standout year in Colts in 2022 at Sherwood showing rapid progression as a key defender.
RYLEIGH UTTING – joined Sherwood from Jimboomba Senior men’s team, he is a powerful midfielder who will be elite at Colts level and should be in the mix for Senior selection.
TOM GILLETT – still eligible for Under 17s, Tom is a 200+ cm forward who could take the next step.
RYAN GILDER – another who is eligible for Under 17s, Ryan is a 195cm gifted athlete who is a top prospect.

STERLING MITCHELL – has spent the summer playing in the Northern Territory Football League where he was a rising star playing in the unfamiliar position at a ruckman at the height of just 6’1, but he has a tremendous verticle jump.  Sterling kicked more than goals in 2022 as a mid-sized forward and is a mercurial player that is still only 19.  Another year of development, and a summer in the NTFL, and he could be anything.

Expectations for the season ahead
“To get our pre-season on point after the flood in 2022 that blew us away and we had more than 10 key players unavailable for most of the year. The sky is the limit and given the age profile of the group, development can happen quickly (as happened in 2022).  We want to stay in games.” – Jared Marsh
Opposition to watch and why
“Broadbeach – they bounced back in 2021 after the disappointment of 2020 and expect the same again after only dropping one (important) game in 2022. Our old rivals Palmbeach are quietly building nicely, are always strong in the Colts and have a production line of local talent,” – Jared Marsh
Player to watch from your team
“Will Fletcher will be permanently back in the QAFL and we feel is underrated given his output at QAFL level through 2020-2022 where he was an elite performer,” – Jared Marsh
Player to watch from the opposition
“Caleb Franks at Redland Victoria Point who is a Sherwood junior that we’d love to see in Black & White, but racked up 30 disposals at will on a weekly basis last year and also frequently hit the scoreboard. He has some highly credential midfielders surround him, but he is the engine at the Sharks,” – Jared Marsh

Fixture rating based on 2022 final Home and Away standings
2, 5, 8, 4, 10, 7, 2, 11, 3, 12, 6, 10, 4, 9, 3, 12 ,7, 5 = 120
The Pies have the perfect platform to build a solid start to the season; facing just two 2022 finalists in the first month; followed by a handy stretch in the second quarter of the season against lower finishing teams.

The past two seasons has seen this group start slowly before building some strong form in back end of the season. This season provides the platform for a new coach (fresh from working with the reigning premiers), a more injury-free list and some quality new and returning talent injected into the squad that can see this group secure some vital wins in the first six to eight weeks of the season.

The fact that it plays the top three from 2022 across just four games (Broadbeach twice) opens the door to see what this club can truly achieve. Do not be surprised to see Sherwood make a strong play for the top six; and also, take into consideration that it beat the 2020 premiers in its premiership title defense in 2021 and it led Broadbeach for most the only clash between the pair in their 2021 premiership title defense last year.

Look out, Sherwood could be the surprise packet of 2023.

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