LUKE Lloyd might have lost count, but his teammates hadn't.
Earlier this year, as De La Salle College prepared for its upcoming clash against Mazenod College, Lloyd's teammates could sense something special brewing in the air. They knew a big haul was on its way.
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Last season, Lloyd broke De La Salle's school record when he kicked 14 goals against Mazenod. This time around, they could anticipate the talented youngster would go one better. In the end, he went five better, booting 19 on a special afternoon.
Lloyd, a 193cm marking forward who has rocketed into draft calculations thanks to a prolific season, kickstarted his campaign with that crazy 19-goal game for his school side back in May.
It came amid a massive 184-point De La Salle victory, and ensured Lloyd became the talk of recruiters across the country for his ability to consistently notch big bags of goals at any level.
"My teammates were reminding me," Lloyd told AFL.com.au.
"They were saying, 'A couple more until 10 … a couple more until 20'. But it was a good team performance and a good win. It doesn't really feel like you're playing, you're just having so much fun.
"I kicked 14 against them last year, which was a school record, so all of the boys were expecting something pretty big. But it was good to get a few clearances and they got the ball into me, which was nice."
It's not often that you can kick 19 goals in a single game and still feel humbled by the end of the match. Lloyd did, though. He also kicked five behinds against Mazenod, and missed some sitters late, ruining any chance of him notching 20.
"I don't think I deserved 20 in the end," Lloyd laughed.
"I missed too many chances and there were some easy ones in the last. I choked a bit."
The 19-goal haul marked the 'real' beginning to Lloyd's season. Having endured a delayed start to the campaign due to a number of injury issues, including a frustrating quad problem, his remarkable haul was a sign that he was back to his best.
His eventual return to fitness proved just as crucial for the Sandringham Dragons as it did for De La Salle, as Lloyd booted 21 goals from 11 games at Coates Talent League level and played a prominent role in the side's premiership victory.
Included in that stellar run was a three-goal game upon his return against the Murray Bushrangers, four more against the Gippsland Power, three against the Calder Cannons, four against the Western Jets, and eight goals from three finals games.
"I believe he was the most naturally talented footballer on the Dragons' list this year, which turned out to be a list that won a premiership," Sandringham coach Rob Harding told AFL.com.au.
"His footy IQ is exceptionally high, he understands spacing and positioning, he's got good leading patterns, his hands are fantastic, he's a very strong mark on the lead or in contested situations, and he's a beautiful kick.
"Anyone who has kicked 19 goals in a game, you've got to be a pretty nice kick. But he's a good field kick and he's a reliable set-shot at goal. He has a number of attributes that I think are going to stand up really well at the next level."
Lloyd's early quad injury forced him to be sidelined for the Vic Metro trials, meaning he missed the national under-18s carnival. However, for Harding – who also coached Vic Metro this season – there is no doubt he was capable of playing at that level.
"I felt he would've made Vic Metro," Harding said.
"Even after the first couple of games he'd played, there were some clubs that requested he get put into the Vic Metro (squad). That's done by head office, not by us as coaches. He'd clearly shown enough to impress, so I think he would've been more than comfortable at that national level.
"We were really excited to play him in that first month, so it was unfortunate that the quad injury happened when it did. What I'd seen from him that I really liked was he had a great footy brain. He's a great mark and a beautiful ball user. I was looking forward to seeing him play as that connecting centre-half forward.
"But he also showed an ability to get back inside 50 and win the ball at ground level like a crumber and kick goals that way. Straightaway, you just went, 'Wow … that's impressive'. His timing, positioning and execution … you knew it was a high-level player we were dealing with."
Lloyd's draft range still varies among clubs, with some of the belief that he could fall as early as the second round. But, regardless of who calls his name, there is little doubt that wherever he goes, goals will follow.
"There's still a lot to unfold," Lloyd said.
"It hasn't really sunk in. It was pretty incredible to be invited to the Combine, so I'm pretty excited. It would be unreal. It's been a dream of mine for quite a few years, so it would just be unreal."