2023 Coates Talent League Player of the Week: Round 8
NORTHERN Knights midfielder Zak Johnson is our Coates Talent League Player of the Week for Round 8, after dominating in his side’s 32-point win over Oakleigh. The bottom-ager racked up 34 disposals, nine marks, and seven tackles to take out best afield honours ahead of a couple of star top-agers.
Johnson is in line to make the final Vic Metro Under 18 squad having featured prominently throughout the trials. Across five Talent League games, he averages 20 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s, with those numbers only lowered by a rain-affected eight-touch outing in Round 3.
On Sunday against the Chargers, Johnson popped up everywhere to showcase his high level footy IQ, decision making and disposal efficiency. Perhaps the only thing missing was a bit of scoreboard impact, as the 16-year-old registered two behinds for the day.
Teammate Nate Caddy broke through for four goals from 21 disposals and six marks, while Oakleigh rebounder Nathan Philactides strung together 34 disposals, seven inside 50s and nine rebound 50s in his best game of the year, to challenge Johnson for the best afield mantle.
Fresh off an elongated break after the first block of games, the Knights now sit at 4-1, good enough for fifth on a competitive Talent League ladder. Next up is another home game at Preston City Oval, with the Murray Bushrangers coming to town for an early return leg.
Around the grounds in Round 8, Tasmania Devils defender Arie Schoenmaker returned with a bang, collecting a game-high 36 disposals, 19 rebound 50s and a goal in his side’s loss to GWV. Calder’s Ryan Eyre was yet another backman to impress with his 28 touches and 10 rebound 50s against Gippsland.
Over in Frankston, another bottom-age gun in Josh Smillie again posted big numbers as the Eastern Ranges beat Dandenong by a single point. He had 33 disposals and nine tackles. Meanwhile, Geelong ruck Joe Pike stood tall against Murray with three goals from 17 touches and seven marks.
2023 COATES TALENT LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Round 1: Indhi Kirk (Swans Academy)
Round 2: Tom Anastasopoulos (Geelong Falcons)
Round 3: Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
Round 4: Joel Freijah (GWV Rebels)
Round 5: N/A
Round 6: Jed Walter (Suns Academy)
Round 7: Colby McKercher (Tasmania Devils)
Round 8: Zak Johnson (Northern Knights)