WHEN Central Highlands under-15 coach Boyd Vickers sent out the call to three lower grade players to fill positions in his side to compete in Bundaberg, the answer was a resounding "yes".
Their courage was rewarded when the Highlands outfit defied the odds, taking out their first Barry Brimelow carnival title.
Vickers said under-14 players Darcy Pizzey (Blackwater), Lachlan Reid (Blackwater) and Rogan Fawley (Emerald) had no hesitation stepping up to the older age division, proving to him and his coaching staff they were more than capable of handling the promotion.
"I told him (Rogan) not to be scared to try something, put in a chip and back yourself, which he did and scored," Vickers said.
It was not before the Highlands youngsters found themselves kicking all the goals, rebounding off a slow start to the competition to win 54-0 over the Bundaberg competition premiers - Western Suburbs - in their final pool match.
Just 20 minutes into the grand final against the undefeated Central Burnett outfit the Highlands were up 12-0.
The margin, however, wasn't to last, and complacency looked to be taking hold.
"After their last game they thought it was going to be easy," Vickers said.
True to form, the Highlands rallied and managed to starve any last ditch efforts by Burnett to counter, holding out 12-10 by full time.
"They were ecstatic," he said.
"They stuck to their structure and held it together - it was awesome."
Emerald forwards Brady Mayne (Brothers) and Josh Johnston (Tigers) excelled for the Highlands, laying the platform for five-eighth and Player of the Final Astin Nunan (Clermont) to run rings around the opposition's defences.
Vickers said the starring display by all players involved in Bundaberg gave him great hope for the future of junior league in the region.
Adding that another strong performance at the Central Queensland trials next season would be the icing on the cake.
"They're going from strength to strength," he said.
"To take out the CQ trials and get six to eight players in the Capras (representative) side - that's what you measure success on.
"If they play like they know they can, they've got a good chance."
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