JAKE'S TAKE: Hoppers marching to Aker’s message

IS Jason Akermanis the best coach in the Ovens and Murray Football League?

It’s a question that is sure to raise plenty of eyebrows, but one that needs to be asked.

Most thought North Albury would be a mess this year.

The Hoppers are anything but.

With two wins in the bank after five rounds, the question is no longer whether the Hoppers can avoid the wooden spoon.

It’s whether or not they can play finals.

Saturday’s 71-point thumping of Wodonga Raiders suggests the answer might be yes.

The Hoppers just don’t stop running.

Whether it is pushing forward to help in attack, or chasing down the opposition when they don’t have the ball, North Albury has developed a game plan that has made them competitive in every game they’ve played.

That’s something plenty didn’t expect the Hoppers to do.

Their ball use and decision-making skills are exceptional for a team filled with teenagers.

The playing group undoubtedly deserves credit for implementing all that out on the ground.

But all of the above starts at the top.

Not only has Akermanis delivered a message that the playing group is buying into, his on-field influence has been notable.

It’s a shame he’s playing only home games.

The Hoppers have Wangaratta this week and are every chance of entering the interleague bye with a 3-3 win-loss record.

That’s something not even the most optimistic North Albury supporter would have expected at the start of the year.

THE league’s young talent.

Adam Flagg, Jarrah Makysmow and Alex Marklew all turned games on their head with dominant showings up forward at the weekend.

Flagg booted four goals for Lavington in trying conditions against a quality opponent, Marklew won Rovers the derby with four of his own in a low-scoring affair, while Maksymow took Wodonga Raiders apart with a six-goal burst in the second half.

They’re three of the Ovens and Murray’s best young guns and the reason people turn up to the footy. Let’s hope they get a chance at representative level.

KICKING for goal.

Lavington spurned plenty of gilt-edged chances to take control of Saturday’s blockbuster against the Tigers, while Wangaratta Rovers kept arch-rival Wangaratta in Sunday’s derby with poor accuracy in front of the big sticks.

Yarrawonga and Wodonga didn’t exactly set the world on fire either.

Conditions were poor, granted, but a lot were missing goals they should have been kicking.

Albury had troubles earlier in the season and it won’t be long before it costs somebody a game.

COROWA-Rutherglen will have an all-star cast on hand to help celebrate the induction of Hec Francis as a legend at the Roos’ black tie ball on Saturday night.

The club is holding its third Hall of Fame dinner at its annual ball this weekend, with five club greats set to be inducted into the Roos’ Hall of Fame.

Francis, an inaugural inductee in 2004, will join Jim Sandral and Frank Tuck as legends of the club.

Francis passed away in 2011 and son David, Collingwood’s head physio, will accept the honour on his behalf.

Two-time Brownlow medallist and AFL Hall of Famer Keith Greig will play a part.

His daughter Kylie coaches the Roos’ under-16 netball team.

Corowa-Rutherglen president Ray McLarty said the club was eagerly awaiting the occasion.

“It should be great,” he said.

“The whole club is up at the moment and I think it’s terrific to pay homage to past champions and people involved with the club.

“It’s important to let the current group know where the club comes from and its history.”

Corowa-Rutherglen is enjoying its best start to a season in years and hosts winless Wodonga at John Foord Oval on Saturday.

Francis played a leading role in ensuring the 1979 merger of Corowa and Rutherglen was successful, leading the club as president for its first two seasons as a combined force.

He played 150 matches for Rutherglen prior to the amalgamation, including the club’s 1954 premiership.

He also served as president, secretary and treasurer of the Redlegs.

Francis played a significant role in helping the Roos attract North Melbourne premiership player Peter Chisnall back to John Foord Oval to coach in the Roos’ first season, with Chisnall later describing Francis as a “visionary”.

Chisnall will also be there.

Tickets are still available and can be bought at Corowa Sportspower or by contacting the club via email at crfclub@bigpond.com or phone (02) 6033 1585.