Bacchus Marsh has turned to an experienced key forward in the metropolitan-based Northern Football League to add potency in attack.
Aaron Willitts is making the move from Epping, where he has been a stalwart for a decade in NFL divisions two and three.
He has consistently been a leading goalkicker.
Willitts’ past two seasons with Epping have been among his best after a one-year stint with West Preston-Lakeside in division one.
He kicked 73 goals in 2016, when he was selected in the NFL division three team of the year and 60 this year, which placed him second in the competition’s goalkicking. He had a season high of 11.
Bacchus Marsh coach Travis Hodgson said the Cobras’ two defeats at the hands of Darley in this year’s finals had highlighted a need for an additional specialist forward.
They kicked just nine goals, including six in the grand final when missing leading forward Jarrah Maksymow through suspension.
The Cobras had pinch-hitters such as Hamish Coulton, Alec Del Papa, Declan Phyland, Ryley Stuhldreier and Billy Griffiths across the season, but were unable to fully replace Damian Cupido or Cam Richardson from their 2016 premiership team.
Hodgson said he expected Willitts to play as a high forward.
“He has pace as well as being a high mark.”
Bacchus Marsh has also persuaded Harrison King to renew ties with the club.
He will continued his VFL career with Werribee Tigers, but will have Bacchus Marsh as his home club.
King played five VFL games this year, when Werribee had a full AFL alignment with North Melbourne.
Hodgson said now that Werribee was standing alone, King was likely to play more VFL games.
He said if the Cobras could qualify the 22-year-old on-baller – a likelihood enhanced by the disappearance of the AFL development league – that would be a bonus.
King played junior football at Bacchus Marsh with several of the Cobras’ senior line-up before switching to Werribee Districts in the WRFL.
He joined Werribee in 2014 after appearances with Western Jets in the TAC Cup.
IN the meantime, Bacchus Marsh youngster Jacob Wheelahan will play in the Victorian Amateur Football Association next season.
He has signed with C grade club Williamstown CYMS.
Wheelahan progressed from Greater Western Victoria Rebels in the TAC Cup under-18 competition to North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL this year.
He made 14 appearances with the Roosters and three early in the season with Bacchus Marsh. He was also selected in the initial AFL Victoria Country under-19 squad and played in an AFL Young Guns match at the end of the year.