The Ararat Rats were starting from pretty close to the start in 2021, with a bunch of new and fresh faces and a new coach leading the way.
The Rats started slowly recording a 77-point loss to the Warriors of Good Friday, but as the season progressed that Rats made some big steps forward.
Ararat Rats senior coach Matt Walder said seeing his young squad improve throughout the season was his highlight.
"Purely seeing the development and maturity of such a young group over the course of the season that has been the biggest winner from a coaching point of view," he said.
"It was a bit of an unknown on how we might perform, but in some forms I think we have exceeded expectations from earlier in the year and set some new benchmarks.
"Just the pure fact of inexperience and the unknowns of how such a group would respond to challenges over the course of the season made it tough.
"In a normal set of circumstances we would sprinkle a few fresh faces through the system, but we had a plethora of them come through at the start of the year.
"By in whole I have been super impressed with the group and how they have responded over the course of the year."
The Rats recorded five wins and seven losses across their matches in 2021, with their most impressive coming in round seven as they defeated the finals-bound Horsham Saints by seven points.
Walder would not name names about who impressed him the most in 2021, but said he was excited to see what the group could achieve in the future.
"If I single out one it would be rude. I could go through eight or ten of them so for me to do that would be remise of me," he said.
"There is the excitement of the unknown. These players haven't set any boundaries and so there are no limits on this group."
In the other Rats football teams, the reserves finished seventh on the ladder also with five wins.
In the juniors the Rats finished third on the table in the Under-17s and were on top and undefeated in the Under-14s