By: Hayden Tilbrook
IN what was billed as the game to watch in Round 5 of Division 2 action, Heathmont defeated Templestowe, 14.14 (98) to 9.16 (70).
After finding themselves languishing in the bottom half of the ladder with a 1-2 record after Round 3, the Jets have now won their last two games to propel the club into the top-four.
In his first year as Heathmont playing-coach, Kyle Emley told EFL Sunday that the coaching staff had expected an adjustment period to the change in leadership.
“Over the last couple of weeks (the playing group) have been building little bit of momentum,” Emley said.
“Always when you’re a new coach coming in, you’re implementing some new things – it takes a little bit of a while to settle in.
“But I can’t question their ability to try and pick up some of the new concepts and learn and get better and improve themselves individually and as a team.
“It was really pleasing to see that come to fruition yesterday.”
Having played junior football at Heathmont, the Jets’ coach said it was personally rewarding to be back at his old club.
“It was nice to come back, having moved on since junior footy,” he said.
“To come back and see some familiar faces and … (the club is a) very welcoming group of people, it’s a very tight-knit community down there.
“Everyone was really pleased yesterday, it was great to see smiles on the faces.
“Just in terms of the vibe around the place, it was really positive yesterday afternoon and that’s what community footy’s about – about bringing people together and bonding over footy and having a good time on their weekend.
“That’s what we were able to do yesterday so it’s really pleasing.
After leading at quarter-time and half-time against Templestowe in Round 5, the Jets withstood immense pressure from the Dockers in the third period that saw the side trail by three goals.
Emley said the presence of assistant coach Andrew Smith was vital for the young Jets at the final break, as the coaching staff continue to figure out how best to utilise the unique dynamic of having a playing-coach.
Heathmont assistant coach Andrew Smith addresses the players on Saturday. PHOTO: Field of View Sports Photography
“He (Andrew Smith) actually took the lead at three-quarter time and galvanised the group,” he said.
“Obviously being on the field and him being off, he’s able to see a lot of stuff that maybe I’m not able to.
“So we’re trying to find that balance in terms of who says what and when.”
With a large contingency of Heathmont’s senior players under the age of 22, the Jets’ coaches have been pleased with the progress on display with each passing week.
The playing-coach attributed the young group’s development to their enthusiasm to learn and adapt.
“What we’ve found is … with those guys under 21 years of age, they’re hungry, they want to improve,” Emley said.
“They’re like sponges.
“They just keep taking on information and challenging themselves and that’s all you can really ask as a coach, is guys who are just willing to learn and willing to push themselves each week.”
Heathmont has timed its rise in form to perfection, with the upcoming Parker Family Cup clash in Round 6.
The annual fixture will this see the Jets welcome Ringwood to HE Parker Reserve, after the Redbacks won both meetings between the two clubs in 2018.