Tasmania Devils ball magnet Colby McKercher and Geelong Falcons midfielder Patrick Hughes tied for the 2023 Morrish Medal, while Falcons’ bottom-age star Sara Howley claimed the 2023 Coates Talent League Girls best and fairest.
It was the third consecutive year the Coates Talent League Boys best and fairest finished in a tie, with McKercher and Hughes both polling 18 votes to finish two ahead of GWV Rebels midfielder George Stevens.
McKercher was the second successive player from the Tasmania Devils to win the Morrish Medal after Lachlan Cowan tied for the award last year.
The prolific left-footer played just eight games in the Coates Talent League Boys this year and polled votes in seven of them. He averaged 31 disposals and also booted 11 goals.
The triumph for the Morrish Medal added to a huge 2023 campaign for McKercher who twice represented Australia as part of the AFL Academy program before helping to guide the Allies to their first title at the AFL National Championships U18 Boys, where he was selected in the All-Australian team after finishing runner up in the Larke Medal voting.
Hughes became the first player from the Geelong Falcons to win the Morrish Medal since 2013.
The inside midfielder polled votes in eight of his 13 home-and-away matches, which included receiving the maximum three votes on four occasions.
He averaged 21 disposals and five tackles a game throughout the regular season, before steering the Falcons to a preliminary final appearance.
Howley claimed the Coates Talent League Girls best and fairest to cap a massive season for the bottom-age star.
The Geelong Falcons speedster polled 21 votes to finish three ahead of Abbey Vicino from the Oakleigh Chargers.
Howley played 10 games for the Falcons as a 16-year-old last season and was a standout throughout the 2023 campaign.
She averaged 33 disposals and one goal per game across 12 matches in the home-and-away season.
Howley also represented Vic Country at the 2023 AFL National Championships U18 Girls and was selected in the All-Australian team. She also featured in the AFLW Futures game earlier this month which featured the best under-17 talent from across Australia.
Joeve Cooper and Suwindi Buckley claimed the Personal Growth Awards which celebrate a player who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and contribution to their community through their efforts to support and engage in purposeful initiatives for the benefit of others.
A member of the Murray Bushrangers leadership group, Cooper was recognised for the guidance and commitment he provided the team’s bottom-age players and the support he dedicates to his older brother Jass who has Down Syndrome.
Buckley was recognised for her voluntary work with conservation group The Thin Green Line Foundation and her leadership within the Northern Knights program.
2023 COATES TALENT LEAGUE AWARDS
MORRISH MEDAL (BOYS BEST AND FAIREST)
1st: Patrick Hughes (Geelong Falcons) – 18 votes
1st: Colby McKercher (Tasmania Devils) – 18 votes
3rd: George Stevens (GWV Rebels) – 16 votes
4th: Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power) – 15 votes
5th: Kristian Ferronato (Northern Knights) – 14 votes
6th: Billy Wilson (Dandenong Stingrays) – 13 votes
7th: Levi Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons) – 12 votes
7th: Jagga Smith (Oakleigh Chargers) – 12 votes
9th: Nate Caddy (Northern Knights) – 10 votes
9th: Darcy Wilson (Murray Bushrangers) – 10 votes
COATES TALENT LEAGUE GIRLS BEST AND FAIREST
1st: Sara Howley (Geelong Falcons) – 21 votes
2nd: Abbey Vicino (Oakleigh Chargers) – 18 votes
3rd: Jade McLay (Calder Cannons) – 14 votes
4th: Ash Centra (Gippsland Power) – 12 votes
5th: Kiera Leare (Western Jets) – 11 votes
5th: Alyssia Pisano (Eastern Ranges) – 11 votes
5th: Jessica Rentsch (GWV Rebels) – 11 votes
8th: Elli Symonds (Dandenong Stingrays) – 10 votes
8th: Mikayla Williamson (Dandenong Stingrays) – 10 votes
10th: Chloe Adams (Geelong Falcons) – 9 votes
10th: Ava Jordan (Northern Knights) – 9 votes
COATES TALENT LEAGUE BOYS TEAM OF THE YEAR
COATES TALENT LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE YEAR
COATES TALENT LEAGUE BOYS PERSONAL GROWTH AWARD
Joeve Cooper (Murray Bushrangers)
Other finalists: Joshua Goldie (Eastern Ranges) and Ben Parker (Western Jets)
COATES TALENT LEAGUE GIRLS PERSONAL GROWTH AWARD
Suwindi Buckley (Northern Knights)
Other finalists: Isabella Davies (GWV Rebels) and Jorja Jackson (Oakleigh Chargers)
2023 COATES TALENT LEAGUE GRAND FINALS
The 2023 Coates Talent League Awards were presented ahead of this weekend's Coates Talent League Grand Finals.
The 2023 Coates Talent League Girls Grand Final between the Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers will be played at IKON Park on Saturday, September 23 from 9:45am. The match will be played ahead of the NAB AFLW Round 4 match between Carlton and Richmond, which commences at 1:05pm.
The 2023 Coates Talent League Boys Grand Final between the Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges will be played at IKON Park on Sunday, September 24 from 11:15am. The match will be played prior to the 2023 Smithy’s VFL Grand Final between the Gold Coast Suns and Werribee, which commences at 3:10pm.
TICKETING: Entry to both Coates Talent League Grand Finals will be free until the commencement of the half-time break on both days. NAB AFLW ticket prices will apply from half-time of the Coates Talent League Girls Grand Final on Saturday, September 23. Smithy’s VFL ticket prices will apply from half-time of the Coates Talent League Boys Grand Final on Sunday, September 24.
BROADCAST: The 2023 Coates Talent League Grand Finals will be streamed live and free at AFL.com.au and the Coates Talent League App.