Heidelberg West coach Gary Cutler is adamant his club is on the right track following a promising start to the Heidelberg Golf Club Division 3 season.
After registering just two wins during the past two seasons, the Hawks recorded a 70-point triumph over Kilmore in Round 2, following an honourable but “disappointing” 21-point loss to Mernda the week prior.
While many have commended the Hawks’ opening fortnight, Cutler and his team see the Round 1 defeat to the Demons as a missed opportunity.
“I was disappointed with the loss in Round 1 and more importantly so were the players,” Cutler told NFL.org.au.
“We put ourselves in a position to win a game of footy but through our own lapses we let ourselves down.”
Increased camaraderie between the group over the off-season has helped the Hawks play more consistent footy, and Cutler touched on what kick-starting their season with a Round 2 win meant for the club.
“The feeling was great for the players and coaches for the reason that it had capped off a really big pre-season program, one that the players should take full credit for,” he said.
“They have rolled their sleeves up, embraced our program and really pushed each other.”
Cutler remains confident the many changes made during pre-season can rejuvenate Heidelberg West after limited on-field success in recent times.
“There were plenty of changes over the summer period in brand new coaches, lots of new players and a brand new leadership group,” Cutler said.
“Mick Missen has come on board as the reserves coach and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on everybody at the club.
“The club has a strong steady committee led by Paul Byrne, who I actually coached as a young man.”
Following strong performances by recruits Masaki Miki and Harley Mozdzierz in the opening two rounds, Cutler said the new players to the club had made an immediate impact at Heidelberg Park.
“We have had probably 20 new players come into the club this year and every one of them has had an impact,” he said.
“Justin Bentley was the first to sign on and he’s been fantastic. He set the training standards from the first night of pre-season and was a very easy choice as co-captain.
“Masaki Miki and Ben Kennan have also been impressive since the moment they walked in the door. They are in our leadership group such has been their impact.
“We are a club that doesn’t have a big football budget and we have focused on good people who want to make this footy club great, that’s been the driving force behind our recruiting.”
While there is still plenty of work to do, the Hawks are striving for more success, with Cutler confident Heidelberg Park can be an appealing destination for players in the future.
“I truly believe that in the very near future we can be a powerful club again. We have the right people running it and we have a very young list that will improve together,” he said.
“The players’ thoughts are that we don’t just want to be competitive, we want to win games of footy.
“We believe that we’ve done the hard work so why shouldn’t we expect to win?”
Heidelberg West will host Laurimar after the Easter break in Round 3 and will be favoured to claim back-to-back wins. But Cutler is weary of going in too confident.
“What I can tell you is that we won’t be taking Laurimar easy. I’ve seen their list and that would be disrespectful to them to think anything else than they’re coming to win,” he said.
“We will prepare for them and to be honest we haven’t earned the right to think that we’re ahead of anyone else yet. We are confident that if we prepare and do the little things right the scoreboard has a way of looking after itself.”