By Peter Douglas
Eastern Ranges has dominated the TAC Cup Team of the Year for 2017, with five footballers from its Under 18s team last week named in the squad.
The offering was the most of any club in the competition, with Geelong Falcons the nearest club with four representatives.
Heading the list were Yarra Ranges players and highly touted AFL draft hopefuls Joel Garner (Wandin), Jaidyn Stephenson (Ferntree Gully) and Sam Hayes (Ferntree Gully).
Garner was named in a back pocket, with Stephenson on a half-forward flank and Sam Hayes as the number one ruckman.
Likely top 10 draftee Adam Cerra (Ringwood) and Dylan Moore (Heathmont) were the other Eastern Ranges players to make the team.
The TAC Cup Team of the Year was announced on the count of the Morrish Medal, one of the competition’s highest individual honours.
In the final leaderboard, top draft prospect Sam Hayes was the only Eastern Ranges’ player in the top 10 for the medal.
The emerging ruckman finished in fifth spot with 14 votes, behind leader and Oakleigh Charger Jack Higgins on 22 votes.
All of Hayes, Garner and Stephenson were recently invited for this year’s crucial AFL Draft Combine in Melbourne.
The trio will be among 83 players from Australia taking part in the event at Etihad Stadium from 3-6 October.
The combine allows AFL clubs to gain a better look at the players’ physical and mental attributes.
The trio have all been rated as strong chances of being drafted, with some draft-watchers predicting Stephenson and Hayes could go in the top 10, with Garner predicted as a late first-round or early second-round chance.
The Eastern Ranges were due to clash against cross-town rival Dandenong Stingrays in an elimination final at Victoria Park, after the Ranges finished the home and away season in sixth position.