JAY Moody is not your average key forward.
The Portland teenager has carried the Tigers’ forward fortunes this season, belying his age and his 180-centimetre, 75-kilogram frame to kick a club-high 30 goals in 16 games.
Moody, 17, said his second senior season — he played 10 games in 2013 — had been a steep learning curve.
The speedy rising star, who is still eligible for under 18½s next year, said he’d refined his craft as a marking option.
But he admitted it had been tough at times playing in a forward line often bereft of taller options.
“It is good but I have a long way to go,” Moody said of his development.
“It has been tough because we have struggled with big players, to be honest.
“As a shorter kid and a young kid, I have had to adapt but I have had a lot of help from the boys, like Jake Myles and Luke Crane, so I am slowly getting better.
“This year has been as the main forward, the marking full-forward.
“That is why I have struggled a bit. Hopefully I can be a medium forward and help out our full-forward (in the future).”
Moody wants to press his claims for a spot on North Ballarat Rebels’ TAC Cup roster next year.
He hopes his experience at senior level might help his chances.
If not, he’s happy playing for his home club and build on his 2014 efforts.
“I think at the start of the year I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t know what to do to play key forward at this height and age and I was nervous.
“But throughout the year I have improved, when to lead and when not to lead and I’m improving my defensive pressure too.”
Sixth-placed Portland will fight for its season today against second-placed Koroit.
The Tigers must win and hope other results fall their way to book their inaugural Hampden league finals spot.
Moody, who is studying a personal training course, said Portland would embrace the challenge.
“It’s a big game so we are excited and pumped to try and make finals,” he said.
“The season has been up and down for us but we’re going to try and capitalise this week.
“We’ll have a different forward line this week.
“We’re missing Dennis O’Loughlin so Mitch Bunworth will come down from the back line to help me out.
“He hasn’t played there all year.”
You sense Portland coach Myles just can’t wait for the final siren today.
He has spent all week pondering how the Tigers can beat the Saints at Victoria Park and sneak into next week’s elimination final.
You can tell he is over the waiting and thinking and he just wants to lead his side into battle.
“We’ve just got to win,” he said simply.
“We have to take the game on, forward pressure, high intensity and hopefully we can run them off their feet.
“Hopefully we can use the ball well like last week. I’m sure we will get opportunities in through the game, if we take them we’ll be close.”
The problem for the Tigers is that the Saints, while entrenched in second place, have a point to prove after being beaten by fourth-placed Terang Mortlake last Saturday.
Koroit coach Adam Dowie said the Saints wanted to respond after their disappointing loss, just their fourth defeat of the season.
“It’s probably not great form if you happen to go into the finals having lost your last two games,” he said. “(But) the more I think about it, I don’t think the loss has done us any harm. It was good in a way, to keep our feet on the ground.”
Dowie said Portland had a healthy rivalry with Hamilton Kangaroos and would love to beat the merged club — borne out of one of their former Western Border opponents — to a final series in their new league.