By Russell Bennett
Casey Cardinia United is now 0-3 to start the new Gridiron Victoria Division 2 season after a 34-6 loss away to the Bendigo Dragons on Saturday.
Both sides went into the clash searching for their first win of the season with CCU (formerly the Pakenham Silverbacks) looking vastly different from the side that claimed the past two championships – including going undefeated through its 2016 campaign.
Less than 10 players have returned from last season’s group, with injury and sickness striking an already under-manned side.
CCU was down 26-0 at the half but after the main break the offence – led by 16-year-old rookie quarterback Reid Hiskins – started making yards off the back of some impressive defence led by the experienced JJ Craig and defensive captain Mitch Farrant.
Hiskins threw his first touchdown pass of the season in the second half to Deckster Harawa, who was making his CCU debut after previously playing for the Berwick Miners.
Coach Paul Tindall and defensive coordinator Damien Belsham were both full of praise for their young side, which on the weekend featured players playing on both sides of the ball. They hold high hopes as the group continues to gel and gets more combined experience.
CCU (which is an amalgamation of the Silverbacks and the Miners) had previously lost 24-8 to Western Crusaders II (undefeated through their first three games) and 29-0 to last season’s runner-up, the Northern Raiders (currently 3-1).
Casey Cardinia will next head to Ballarat this Saturday to face the Falcons from 2pm, before a home game at Lakeside Recreation Reserve against the Monash Barbarians from 2pm on 22 July.