Titans ready to tackle the top tier

Hayden Stagg will co-coach Berwick Springs with Chris Johnson this season. 361017 Picture: ROB CAREW

By Marcus Uhe

Coaches: Hayden Stagg, Chris Johnson.

Captain: Brodie Worland.

2023: 2nd (12-4), lost the Division One grand final.

Ins: Brodie McConnell (Devon Meadows), Ryan Cunningham (Catani), Matt Souttar (Catani), Gabe Bonicelli (Hallam), Mitch Brown (Knox), Cameron Miller (Narre Warren), James Misso (Beaconsfield), Lachlan Coverdale (Cora Lynn), Justin Markulija (Beaconsfield).

Outs: Blake Simondson (South Belgrave), James Makrodimitris (Officer), Dysan Morris (Knox), Tom Nelson (Noble Park), Ethan Domato (Keysborough), Daniel Ousley (injury).

10 to watch: Riley Hillman, Aiden Nelson, Brent Urwin, Hayden Stagg, Ty Ellison, Cameron Miller, James Misso, Chris Johnson, Corey Green, Brodie Worland.

Playing twice: Gembrook Cockatoo, Pakenham, Woori Yallock, Upwey Tecoma, Mt Evelyn, Wandin, Emerald.

Expected finish: 9th.


Round 1: Saturday 13 April v Gembrook Cockatoo (H)

Round 2: Saturday 20 April v Pakenham (A)

Round 3: Saturday 27 April v Woori Yallock (A)

Round 4: Saturday 4 May v Upwey Tecoma (H)

Round 5: Saturday 11 May v Mt Evelyn (H)

Round 6: Saturday 18 May v Wandin (A)

Round 7: Saturday 25 May v Olinda Ferny Creek (H)

Round 8: Saturday 1 June v Narre Warren (A)

Round 9: Saturday 15 June v Emerald (H)

Round 10: Saturday 22 June v Officer (A)

Round 11: Saturday 29 June v Monbulk (H)

Round 12: Saturday 6 July v Gembrook Cockatoo (A)

Round 13: Saturday 13 July v Pakenham (H)

Round 14: Saturday 23 July v Upwey Tecoma (A)

Round 15: Saturday 3 August v Woori Yallock (H)

Round 16: Saturday 10 August v Wandin (H)

Round 17: Saturday 17 August v Mt Evelyn (A)

Round 18: Saturday 24 August v Emerald (A)

2024 will see Berwick Springs take another step in its evolution as it embarks on a new challenge in Premier Division and looks to put a dismal performance in last season’s Outer East Football Netball Division One grand final behind them.

It was shaping up as the young club’s crowning achievement last September and ended in heartbreak, thrashed by 59 points by a rampant Emerald side that flexed its muscle emphatically when it mattered the most.

The quality of departures are stark, headlined by match-winning forward Tom Nelson and emerging star Blake Simondson, but the Titans recruited with those absences in mind, leaving them in a healthy place to attack 2024 and the following years, according to playing co-coach, Chris Johnson.

“We’re going to come up and compete with every side, we don’t doubt that,” Johnson said.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get the chocolates in Division One but the fact that we’re able to come up into Premier Division, with the confidence and mentality that we’re here and deserve to be here, I think that’s going to hold us in good stead moving forward.

“It’s really been an awesome summer to see everyone that’s come on-board or played last year, jump into Premier Division and really buy-in.”

Johnson and Hayden Stagg begin their reign together as co-coaches with decades of friendship and experience together under their belts, entrusted with leading the club’s next chapter of an already impressive story.

Both have been delighted with the communication and approach to date, confident in the alignment of philosophies and processes that will bring success in the coming years.

Experienced players were on the agenda over the offseason to rectify the absences and help to ease the transition to a higher level of football, with Cameron Miller (Narre Warren), Justin Markulija and James and Michael Misso (all Beaconsfield) all among those expected to help the Titans take the next step.

“We understand that we lost some talent but we also picked up some talent,” Johnson said.

“We’ve created a game plan with the cattle that we’ve got, so the way we’re going to play is going to be different to how we utilised those players last year.

“Although they are big losses in ability and personnel, we’ve definitely replaced that and gotten better.”

Mick Morland Reserve’s wide expanses will test sides in the Hills conditioned and suited to playing on miniscule venues.

A spine with lynchpins in star key defender Riley Hillman and goal-kicking key forward Ty Ellison gives Johnson and Stagg a core to build a 22 around that served the club so well in Division One.

Johnson is confident that their stocks are suited to Premier Division, with long-term success for the Titans at the forefront of his thinking.

“For us, this year is about setting up the club for the next 10 years,” he said.

“We look at where the club was five years ago and we really think this year is the year where we can set the club up for being a successful and competitive senior football side in Premier Division for the next five years.

“We understand that it’s going to be a big jump, but I really think we’re in the best possible place to come forward and hit those challenges head-on.”