Merrivale's Tate Porter had a strong 2019 season but he's gone up a gear in 2021.
The 19-year-old, who featured in his team's best on Saturday against Russells Creek, was everywhere and played a big part in the Tigers surging ahead in the second half.
The midfielder's ability to hit the scoreboard has been impressive and he kicked a great on-the-run goal in the final quarter.
He's already kicked seven goals from his six games this season, building on his six majors from 11 matches with the senior team in 2019.
There was no 2020 Warrnambool and District league season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I've struggled in the past hitting the scoreboard so it's good to kick one or two every now and then to help out," Porter said.
He kicked two in the round six win against Russells Creek and also kicked four against Dennington in round four.
He feels well supported by his teammates, including ruck recruit Manny Sandow and on-baller Blair McCutcheon.
"He's helped me a lot through the midfield and taught me a lot," he said of Sandow.
"He's good as a tap ruckman and around the ground, he just directs everyone and keeps everyone in line which is unreal, he's a good leader.
"Blair is the exact same, he directs everyone, he just wants to make everyone better and that's what's so great about the club at the minute - everyone's on the same page and trying to be better."
Porter praised the entire midfield brigade which includes the likes of his brother Jalen, Wil Flaherty and Jye Wilson.
"They've all been playing well," he said.
Coach Josh Sobey, after Saturday's win, talked about the Tigers' focus on defence this year.
He feels it key to success and it was a focal point during pre-season.
Porter said the Tigers' midfielders were concentrating on running both ways.
"Our mids have been pretty attacking lately and it's good to get back and help the defenders as much as we can and give them a chop out which is what we're working on," he said.
Going the other way, the midfielders are working hard to gather the crumbs in the forward line.
"Nathan Krepp, Luke Bryne and Todd Mclean, when he's down there, are just good targets and are always going to give a contest and it's good to have the little resting mids at their feet," Porter said.
The Tigers are sitting third, with a 4-2 record, behind Nirranda and Kolora-Noorat.
Porter, who is in the side's leadership group, feels the Tigers could start games better.
"I think we've had a slow start to the season, we haven't come out firing, we need to really come out and hit the scoreboard straight away which we've struggled with and (that includes) today as well," he said after the Russells Creek game.
"But we seem to fight back which is good."
The teenager played in the Tigers' semi-final loss to Old Collegians in 2019.
He believes the group is progressing well in its effort to take the next step.
"I feel like we're on the right track, we've obviously got a bit of work to do," he said.
"But it's only early in the season and I'm sure everyone will put their head down and get the work done."
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