From 2015 to 2019, Beaufort grew into a powerhouse of the Central Highlands Football League, playing off in two grand finals and winning the 2018 senior premiership.
An exodus of key players following that triumph and after the 2019 semi-final campaign meant that 2021 presented a new-look Beaufort side.
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Under co-coaches Brendan Howard and Mitchell Jenkins, in their second year and first actual season in charge, the Crows provided some glimpses of the future in what was a tough season in the win-loss column.
"It was obviously a bit of a rebuilding season for us. With so much turnover from when we last played, trying to bring so many new guys together," Jenkins said.
"I think we had 26 guys make their senior debut for the club this season, including seven from our under 18's."
The season began on a high, Beaufort holding on to defeat Carngham-Linton by six points.
The ensuing three games were low points for the Crows, averaging just 23 points against Waubra, Skipton and Bungaree from round two to four.
They found their groove a little more after this stretch, however, with competitive losses to Springbank and Newlyn giving them some confidence.
"Against Springbank we dialed back our game plan a lot ... to more of a contested game just to try and get our hands on the pill a bit more because we just weren't winning the ball," Howard said.
"That's when we sort of played well against Springbank, even though they beat us by 10 goals I thought we were really competitive throughout day.
"Against Newlyn the next week we were competitive again and right in, then we got lockdown again."
With a new, young group, the stop-start nature of the season did not benefit Beaufort and its attempt to gel and build chemistry.
"It was basically a new-look team, so I think the stop-start season probably didn't help us a lot with trying to get guys used to playing with each other and a bit of continuity etc," Jenkins said.
"It would've been nice I think for us to keep playing through, we probably needed as much of that as we could with such a new group to keep training and playing together and get us going in the right direction."
On their return to play, the Crows ran into top four sides Dunnstown, Hepburn and Rokewood-Corindhap in consecutive weeks and like many throughout the year, suffered big losses.
They rebounded strongly against Clunes in round 15, however, to win by 24 points, a reward for the competitiveness shown earlier in the season.
A dead-rubber followed against Daylesford to finish the season, where both sides affected heavily by the lockdown in Melbourne with some key senior players stuck down the highway.
With a big off-season approaching, depth across the list is objective number one for Howard and Jenkins.
"We need to improve on our depth across the list no doubt," Jenkins said.
"I think probably through that midfield, flank positions, those guys that are around the footy a fair bit we'll hopefully be targeting.
"As well as continuing to build up those young guys that are already on our list as well and try and develop them. That's the direction we want to go."
Howard added that the majority of the 2021 list has re-signed for 2022 and beyond.
"We've got a real good group, I think we've had 36 sign back up already and about 20-odd have signed couple-year deals.
"(This) is a good reflection on where the club's at culture-wise, I think everyone really enjoys being there.
"It was just good to get back into footy really. That's what we're concentrating on, just trying to build a really good culture at the club now."
2-9, 18.18 per cent games won, 38.65 traditional percentage
Tim Haase (10)
Round one: defeated Carngham-Linton 7.8 (50) - 6.8 (44)
Round two: defeated by Waubra 3.3 (21) - 16.18 (114)
Round three: defeated by Skipton 6.4 (40) - 17.17 (119)
Round four: defeated by Bungaree 1.2 (8) - 13.13 (91)
Round five: defeated by Springbank 8.7 (55) - 17.15 (117)
Round six: defeated by Newlyn 12.10 (82) - 15.8 (98)
Round nine: defeated by Dunnstown 4.2 (26) - 18.9 (117)
Round 10: bye
Round 11: defeated by Hepburn 2.4 (16) - 18.18 (126)
Round 12: defeated by Rokewood-Corindhap 5.2 (32) - 22.20 (152)
Round 15: defeated Clunes 7.6 (48) - 3.6 (24)
Round 17: defeated by Daylesford 4.5 (29) - 7.9 (51)
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