Sawtell coach Jody Jenkins has already seen enough of his young charges to know they’ll graduate from the school of hard knocks that is the Coastal Premier League northern conference.
As tutor of the first-grade side, Jody is keeping a lid on expectation, but no ceiling on anticipation of what may be.
“We’ve got an extremely young team – probably only two players retained from last year,” he said.
“Our average age would be about 19. We’ve got three players in their 20s, and the rest are 17s and 18s.”
The young Scorpions lack experience but have shown plenty of bottle.
“Against Coffs first up we were outclassed, but on the weekend I thought we could have got a result,” Jody said.
That match, against the appropriately named Northern Storm, was abandoned 10 minutes into the second half when the foulest of weather intervened.
Their position in the combined CPL evidenced a better indication of the Scorpions steely underbelly before it split into conferences.
“We were eighth out of 10, and I think the boys did very well given the age of our side – we didn’t get rolled,” Jody said.
Starting anew in the Northern Conference is a fresh chapter in the development journey.
“The league this season is probably too early for us at this level, but the boys are getting a taste of senior football and next year and the one after, they’ll know what it’s about,” Jody said.
“At this stage, they’ve been a bit naive and losing the ball, but I’ll tell you one thing, they will not give up.”
This is Jody’s first year in charge of the Sawtell firsts, and he’s relishing the challenge – and even prepared to pull on the boots, if necessary.
“I’d rather not but I’m there if needed. I’m 40 now and have had my time – so this is the boys’ time,” he said.
“As a new squad we just need to gel, and the results will come.”