LIVELY forward Jesse Murphy is the only Ballarat Clarendon College footballer to have tasted Country Shield glory.
Murphy will help lead the charge today as College vies to win back the decorated schoolboy title.
Success will deliver College its sixth MCC-Herald Sun Country Shield in seven years.
Shepparton school Notre Dame has challenged College in past Shield finals and will seek to do so again at Craigieburn this morning.
College co-coach Brad Macgowan expected a tough, close match but said his players were definitely ready.
“We’ve got a great team. Most of the boys live together in the boarding house and work together so they have a really good bond and camaraderie,” Macgowan said.
“That relationship between them really helps on the football field.”
College won five consecutive Country Shields before trying its chances in the state’s top schoolboy division, the MCC-Herald Sun Shield, last year.
This was thwarted by St Patrick’s College, which qualified for Ballarat, and College opted to focus its energy on winning back the country crown.
College, captained by Hayden Singe and Hayden Drew, worked its way to the finals as the top Ballarat Associated Schools’ contender, with wins against Ballarat Grammar and Ballarat High School.
An 89-point semi-final win against Christian College, of Geelong, in late June sealed its spot in the championship match.
It has been a week since College was outclassed and overpowered by St Pat’s in this year’s BAS grand final at Eureka Stadium.
Macgowan said his team had learnt a lot from the encounter.
“We hope to put in a far better performance this week than we did against St Pat’s,” he said.
“We’ve watched the vision and analysed the match and have focused this week on improving our scoring efficiency because we had enough chances to score last week ... we’ve looked at being more effective with our inside forward-50s.”
The Country Shield final marks College’s last senior football game with the season.
It is also a last chance to bring home a prize.
BALLARAT CLARENDON COLLEGE v Notre Dame, Shepparton
What: AFL Victoria Country Shield
When: today, 11am