MATER Dei Catholic College skipper Baxter Wallett will look to bring his blistering early season form with Turvey Park to the Carroll Cup at Robertson Oval on Wednesday night.
Two of the competition's heavy hitters will meet in the first round when Mater Dei takes on defending champions The Riverina Anglican College in a rematch of last year's final.
Key forward Wallett has booted 11 goals in two games for the Bulldogs seniors this year. Mater Dei also boasts Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes livewire Flynn Collins up forward, as well as giant full forward Henry Cook.
Mater Dei applied intense early pressure in last year's final before a classier TRAC outfit prevailed by 51 points.
Coach Nathan Irvine said while they would have preferred to ease their way into a clash with TRAC, it will give them a gauge of how they match up with the benchmark.
Mater Dei is looking for their first Carroll Cup title since 2016.
"Having to play them first up i he grand final rematch of the last two years is how the round robin system works. You can really only afford to drop one game, so it's pretty tough," he said.
"We would've preferred to play them after a couple of games, but you don't want to be disrespectful to other teams because everyone can knock each other off.
"If you're going to win it, you have to beat them at some stage.
"They'll be really well drilled and they'll know it will be a must win game for them. We have to match their intensity from the word go."
Irvine said they would look to make the game as contested as possible.
"They were just too classy (in last year's final). That level of pressure is just too hard to maintain for young guys for four quarters," he said.
"But we'll need to start really well and there's a chance it's going to be wet. It might make it more of a contested game and whoever kicks their goals early on and puts on some scoreboard pressure will be well placed.
Irvine said they'll need to at least break even with TRAC in the midfield contest to give their forward line a chance to make an impact.
"We had Tom Smith, one of our ruckmen, make his debut for Mangoplah on the weekend and Flynn Collins has been playing as a small forward for them," Irvine said.
"If Tom can get the ball to ground and our midfielders can get it forward to guys like Baxter and Flynn, hopefully we can put some pressure on.
"Big Henry Cook is starting at full forward, he's 200cm and 100kg as an 18 year old kid as well.
"Those two guys will rotate between ruck and full forward, and hopefully pose a few challenges there as well."
The match will get underway at 6pm, after the clash between Kooringal High School and Wagga High School at 4.30pm.
Kooringal High School (squad): Roland Bailey, Liam Bettens, Nick George, Jake Hinds, Rowan Hoare, Noah Killeen, Luke Lawrence, Todd Maiden Will Manuel, Ryan Marshall, Luke McGowan, Archie Mosses, Ash Murdoch, Preston Oakman, Shaun O'Donnell, Joe Oti, Dominic Perkins, Byron Price, Seb Rodet, Alec Schmetzer, Ben Thornton, Alex Weightman, Nate Wetherill, Max Willis.
Wagga High School: B - J Doswell, F Morton, J Saffery; HB - H Bent, F Hubbard, T Carey; C - L Livio, T Pumpa, R Judd; HF - L Moore, A Cornell, E Sanbrook; F - Z Walker, C Wadley, R Errington; Foll - E Doherty, L Brett, C Walker; Inter - B Donnelly, H Lock, Z Steele, J Fewson, F Jenkins, L Trevaskis, C Noye.
Mater Dei Catholic College: B - Harry Hallcroft, Joshua Press, Lewis Pulver; HB: Beau Edmunds, Jed Guthrie, Isaac Molloy; C - Will English, Jake Hockley, Harrison Wheeler; HF - William Voss, Baxter Wallett, Thomas Ferguson; F - Flynn Collins, Henry Cook, Ethan Watt; Foll - Tom Smith, Oscar Jenkins, Charlie Masterton; Inter - Bailey Hilton, Isaak Jones, Charlie Stratton, Sam Moller.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.