Tom Mills has come through the junior ranks at the Ararat Rats, and is now a pivotal member of a senior side that is in premiership contention.
Mills, 20, is certainly no longer an up-and-comer in the Wimmera Football League. After being in Ararat's leadership group last season, Mills has taken on a vice-captaincy role this year and is leading from the front.
"I'm one of the vice-captains this year which is a bit new," Mills said.
"I like it. Just giving on-field direction, trying to sort our structure out and help us get into the right spots, being a voice out there to help ... I enjoy it."
Like many on-field leaders in country football, Mills didn't have much to say about his personal success.
"Yeah I'm feeling not too bad, I'm fit and just, I dunno, I'm just trying to keep on getting a kick," he said.
But when it comes to the team, Mills was as determined and focused as any to help the Rats go even further than their preliminary final finish in 2018.
"We want to try to go better than last year," Mills said.
"So far it's pretty good. We have a good healthy list at the moment.
"We have about 60 players, so our depth is really good through both grades. That puts pressure on guys to perform, which is really good. It gets the best out of us."
When he was 18, Mills' talent put him on the radar of some AFL clubs. But after a spot in Australia's top league didn't pan out, Mills opted to stay in Ararat and commit to the Rats, rather than playing elsewhere.
"Maybe in the coming years I'll try to play better footy and see how far I can go, but for now I just want to win a flag with Ararat," Mills said. "That's all I'm really focused on."
After a tight round one victory, a massive clash is shaping up for Ararat on Friday against the Stawell Warriors.
The contest between the two rivals is generally a tough and heated affair, no matter the strength of either club.
Taking place on Good Friday adds even more excitement to proceedings, with a monster crowd expected to be near overflowing at Stawell's North Park.
"It's obviously a massive game, Stawell are going to be a lot better than they were last year," Mills said.
"It's always a big occasion no matter how good either team is.
"The Good Friday game is awesome, too. Everyone from around town comes down to it and makes it a big day. It's great for country footy... I'm excited."