WELCOME to the fourth edition of The Huddle, our new weekly football column.
The Standard discusses interesting tales from across the leagues as well as enjoying the lighthearted side of the game.
ALLANSFORD footballer Levi Draffen entered the Warrnambool and District league season with a goal - to kick 50 majors.
The Ellerslie-based teenager, who had a home-made oval which got a workout during the COVID-19 pandemic, ticked that feat off in eight rounds and now has 57 goals to his credit after nine matches.
So what's next for the Brauer College student?
"My first aim was 50 and now I have to go for the 100," Draffen said.
As for celebrations, he would ramp them up if he did manage to reach the 100-goal mark.
"I didn't really do much for the 50," Draffen said.
Proud parents Leigh and Rene have enjoyed watching their son play, with his mum saying he "kicked one over his head which was pretty clever".
"They've had a favourite goal," he said.
"I haven't really had any."
Draffen, 14, kicked 24 goals last season but has found a rich vein of form in front of the sticks in 2023.
In a game against Panmure he kicked 10 and the following week nabbed an incredible 16 against Nirranda.
He's hit the scoreboard in every under 15 match and has been doubling up on Saturdays, playing two games a day as he's stepped up to the Cats' under 18 side where he's kicked 10 goals.
The in-form Cat, whose team sits atop the ladder, credits speed, crumbing skills and his teammates for his tally.
"I started the season at centre half-forward and then I got put at full-forward last weekend," Draffen, who also plays on-ball, said.
"I have teammates who kick it to the right spots."
Coleraine reserves player Alistair Lewis is the only other player across the region to have hit 50-plus goals at this stage of the year.
He has kicked 54 from six games in the South West District league competition.
The leading goal-kickers across other WDFNL grades are Dylan Weir (seniors, Merrivale, 48), Abel Farrell (reserves, South Rovers, 30) and Joseph Douglas (under 18s, Dennington, 35).
The Hampden league's leading goal-kickers after eight rounds are Will Kain (seniors, Terang Mortlake, 29), Kym Eagleson (reserves, South Warrnambool, 28), Isaac McVilly (under 18.5s, Cobden, 14), Archie Tepper (under 16s, Koroit, 33) and Max Hogan (under 14s, North Warrnambool Eagles, 25).
Port Fairy defender Colin Harwood says Jake Bartlett's role in the ruck has helped the Seagulls' cause.
Bartlett, who can also play key forward, was important in their impressive 15.10 (100) to 5.7 (37) win over Camperdown on Saturday.
"He didn't want to play ruck at the start of the year and now we can't get him out of there because he loves it," Harwood, who played his 150th game, said.
Sometimes as a key forward you have to delve into your bag of tricks.
That's what Terang Mortlake's Will Kain did on Saturday against Hamilton Kangaroos when he produced a six-goal effort in tricky conditions.
"It wasn't a conventional six goals from Will," coach Ben Kenna said.
"It was a few goals, here, there and anyhow - off the ground. He didn't get great delivery at times, the ground was fairly heavy there at Hamilton.
"They had a fair bit of rain overnight.
"I think they had 30 millimetres and he just found a way to get himself into the game and he dished off a few handballs too to set up other goals."
Kain has been crucial to the Bloods' dominant seven-win, one-loss start to the Hampden league season.
WARRNAMBOOL'S Harry Ryan is making centre half-forward his own.
With captain Sam Cowling now playing in defence, Ryan has grabbed his chance to be the leading target in the Blues' attack.
Ryan, coming off a three-goal effort against Cobden, has kicked 15 goals from seven games this season, hitting the scoreboard in all bar one appearance.
Warrnambool coach Dan O'Keefe said Ryan needed an opportunity and had "taken it with two hands".
"He's hitting the scoreboard and kicking goals which is a great thing to have but what's the most pleasing thing is he's our second-biggest tackle-getter and by far the best inside 50.
"His pressure for a big fella on the ground is just enormous."
Koroit premiership captain Brett Harrington made his return from off-season Achilles surgery via the Saints' reserves on Saturday.
Coach Chris McLaren said he got through the match against North Warrnambool Eagles unscathed.
"He lined up on Dylan Parish at one stage and I thought 'gee that's not the ideal reserves opponent you want, someone who is big, strong and fit'," he laughed.
"He'll play a couple of games there and if the body is feeling good will keep going but if not he'll make a call on it."
Archie Stevens' form in the VFL is turning heads.
The South Warrnambool export gathered 28 disposals in Carlton's three-point win over Frankston - the second most for the Blues behind AFL-listed player Jaxon Binns (35).
It comes after Stevens had a career-best 35 touches a week prior against Sydney.
Koroit export Josh Chatfield kicked three goals for Footscray in its 58-point drubbing of Geelong.
It followed his four-goal performance the previous round against Gold Coast.
Another Hampden export, former South Warrnambool midfielder Marcus Herbert, toiled away for the Cats, collecting 26 disposals.
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