Geelong lacked the firepower and the continuity to challenge the better teams, with the Cats using a league-high 61 players across the course of the Smithy's VFL season.
BY THE NUMBERS
W-L-D (%): 8-9-1 (80.5%)
Players used: 61
Played every match: 2 – Jye Chalcraft and Ted Clohesy
AFL players used: 25
Debutants: 19 – Kye Annand, Lewis Antonac, Harry Benson, Sam Bourke, Jhye Clark, Mace Cousins, Ryan Eyers, Phoenix Foster, Hunter Gottschling, Mitch Hardie, Tanner Lewis, Hamish Lucas, Mark Marriott, Oisin Mullin, Oscar Murdoch, Tyler Norton, Jamie Quick, William Sheahan and George Stevens
Best and Fairest: 1st: Jye Chalcraft, 2nd: Daniel Capiron, 3rd: Ted Clohesy, 4th: Bailey Van de Heuvel, 5th: Oliver Dempsey and Mitch Knevitt
J.J. Liston Trophy votes: Oliver Dempsey (14), Jye Chalcraft (13), Mitch Knevitt (3), Sam Menegola (3)
Coaches MVP votes: Oliver Dempsey (37), Jye Chalcraft (34), Daniel Capiron (22)
VFL Team of the Year representatives: Oliver Dempsey
Goalkickers: Oliver Dempsey (18), Shannon Neale (17), Jye Chalcraft (16)
(Averages – minimum 6 matches)
Disposals: Brandan Parfitt (23.7), Sam Menegola (23.5), Marcus Herbert (22.7)
Kicks: Sam Menegola (16.2), Matty Lloyd (13.5), Marcus Herbert (13.1)
Handballs: Jye Chalcraft (13.1), Brandan Parfitt (11.5), Mitch Hardie (10.1)
Marks: Bailey Van de Heuvel (6.2), Daniel Capiron (6.1), Ted Clohesy (5.5)
Tackles: Mitch Knevitt (5.3), Ted Clohesy (5.2), Brandan Parfitt (5.2)
Hitouts: Will Christie (16.6), Kye Annand (4.7), Shannon Neale (4.5)
Clearances: Brandan Parfitt (4.5), Jye Chalcraft (3.5), Hamish Lucas (3.4)
Inside-50s: Sam Menegola (5.0), Mitch Knevitt (4.6), Brandan Parfitt (3.6)
Rebound-50s: Marcus Herbert (5.3), Daniel Capiron (3.9), Ben Lloyd (3.9)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ollie Dempsey had a sensational season at VFL level in just his second year after being plucked straight from school footy and it is hard to see him playing too many matches at this level next year. He topped the Liston and Coaches votes for the Cats and won the club’s goalkicking award. Jye Chalcraft had another wonderful year to win his second straight best and fairest, Shannon Neale kicked 17 goals in eight games and is banging down the AFL door while Bailey van de Heuvel played well enough to attract AFL interest ahead of the Draft. An away win over eventual Grand Finalist Werribee was the highlight.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Cats couldn’t get a lot of continuity going in their VFL team, using a league-high 61 players throughout the course of the year, including 25 AFL-listers rotating through the line-up. 35 played six games or less, which would have made it nearly impossible for coach Mark Corrigan to put together any consistent plans. Star VFL recruit Brayden Ham missed six games through injury and Tynan Smith only got on the park once due to concussion issues. After a terrific win against Carlton away in Round 1, their season was derailed by a record-breaking 107-point thumping from the Gold Coast Suns the following week and they never recovered.
The Cats lacked the firepower and the continuity to challenge the better teams. If they weren’t able to stay calm when the games went down to the wire it could have been a horror season. It’s a huge tick for Mark Corrigan’s gameplan and coaching that they were able to go 6-1-1 in games decided by 14 points or less, with draw with Richmond being only centimetres from a win as a kick after the siren just failed to score. They blooded 19 new players including 14 on the VFL list and that will only be a positive for the future.