The scenes were dominated by smiles at Pakenham today after Kooweerup made its way to consecutive grand finals with an 18-point victory over Nar Nar Goon.
The two best teams in Under-12 White fought out a terrific second semi-final, the Goon getting off to a great start before the Demons pegged their way back in the second quarter.
Some great tackling and wonderful team play gave the Demons the edge in the second half, running out 4.1.25 to 1.1.7 winners.
Coach Aaron Craven started the journey with this team three years ago in the under 11s.
The developing Demons finished bottom of the ladder in 2016, before making their way to the Under-11 White grand final against Endeavour Hills last year.
The result didn’t go their way, but the young Demons thoroughly enjoyed the experience and have worked hard to get back to the big stage.
“It’s fantastic for the team, we’ve been three years at it now, we were runners-up last year and they’re pretty determined to go one better this time around,” Craven said.
“They played like a team today, they played really well, and that’s all a coach can ask for.”
Craven took time to reflect on his first season with the group, and the rapid improvement they have made ever since.
“We only had half a side in the first year, we won no games and were getting beaten by 100 points but the team has steadily improved,” he said.
“Some kids had never played footy before, but they’ve learnt to get their hands on the footy, to kick and handball, but more importantly they really work hard together as a team.
“That’s where success comes from, if they play together as a team they’re going to do pretty well.”
Craven said that applying pressure was important against quality opposition like Nar Nar Goon, and his team executed perfectly.
“They’re a good team and they finished second on the ladder for a reason, and did beat us earlier in the year at their ground by four points,” he said.
“They’re a good side, they run pretty good, but our boys really wanted that game today. I’m very big on tackling and applying pressure on the opposition and the tackling was unbelievable today, the best they’ve tackled in three years I reckon.
“They were like a bunch of Bulls out their today.”
The proud coach said the most important thing for him was that the kids enjoyed their footy, but that making the grand final was pretty satisfying.
“The kids are going to feel this, they’re up and about and they’ll be like that for the next two weeks,” Craven said.
“We lost two weeks ago and the boys really felt it, it hurt them, so to come out and make the grand final is fantastic – but the job is only half done.”
Before signing off, Craven wanted to thank his team manager Amanda, his assistant and first-aider Matt, and all the parents that have helped out and got their children to training throughout the year.
Kooweerup will take on the winner of next week’s preliminary final between Nar Nar Goon and Cora Lynn.