TAC Cup: Jake Owen wins Cannons’ honour

Woodend’s Jake Owen is the Robert Hyde medallist after winning the Calder Cannons’ best and fairest count on Friday night.

Owen, a utility who played across every line this season, won from Aberfeldie inside midfielder Matthew Merlo and Romsey tall defender Jake Lever.

Owen and Merlo were tied in the count deep into the home-and-away season before Owen edged in front through the finals.

Consistent through the campaign, Owen was named among Calder’s best in 14 of the 18 games he played.

His versatility was a big factor in his call-up to the Vic Metro squad for the under-18 national carnival after playing midfield then back then forward through the season.

He kicked 18 goals, including a purple patch of 11 in three matches in late July and early August.

Doutta Stars’ Mitchell Jensen won the Neil Wood medal for ‘most improved’, while Romsey’s Nathan Blair was named ‘most courageous’ and Brian Price won the Doug McCasker award for being ‘club person of the year’.

Meanwhile, Calder has reappointed senior coach Andrew Jago for the 2014 season.

After a preliminary final exit this season, the Cannons are already preparing for next year’s campaign.

“I’m exceptionally proud of the group,” Jago said. “We had our opportunities in the preliminary final and didn’t take them.

“But give Dandenong [Stingrays] their due, we couldn’t put them away and we always knew they’d have the legs to run us deep into the last quarter.”

Exit interviews are already done with this year’s group and shortlists have been drawn up for summer trials for next year’s class.

“I’d say the strength of this group was their ability to take on honest feedback,” Jago said.

“It was one of the most coachable groups I’ve ever worked with at any level. I’d say our graduating class [top-age players] have pushed themselves, reached their potential . . . and they’ll continue to develop further [as senior footballers].

“Our bottom-agers were devastated they couldn’t send out the top-agers with a premiership.”

Jago said he was delighted to be coming back as the team’s coach next season.

After a 0-3 start, the Cannons battled back to parity before jumping into the top four by beating the top two on the ladder in the last two rounds.

“I’ve very much enjoyed the ride,” Jago said.

“I got as much from the players as I hope they got from me,” Jago said.

“I’m blessed to have a good team around me.

“Ian Kyte [region manager] is a brilliant talent manager and Chris Sevior identifies talent as well as anyone in the TAC Cup system.

“I had seven assistant coaches and I thought we worked well as a unit.”

Summer training for next year’s group starts on November 14.

“We’ve mapped our pre-season and made some adjustments,” Jago said.
“Statistically, we laid fewer tackles than any other team in the TAC Cup. That’s one immediate area to look at.”