Will fifth time be the charm for the Power?
UNFINISHED business, a major missed opportunity and a desire to lead Bay Power to its maiden flag serve as Michael Gay's motivation for another season as the club's coach.
Gay, who was officially reappointed to the role earlier this month, will start preseason for his fifth season in charge next week.
Gay took the Power from the doldrums to the 2016 AFL Wide Bay grand final, when they fell victim to a frantic Across The Waves start. The Power finished equal first at the end of the QFA Wide Bay Sunshine Coast regular season this year, but were eliminated by Hervey Bay Bombers in the first week of the finals.
It was a lost opportunity for the club, which enjoyed a hot start to the season.
"I think it came back to how much running the guys had in their legs,” Gay said.
"We had the talent (to win the flag), but we didn't perform to our expectations. We fell short on what we wanted to achieve.”
Gay, who originally worked to a four-year plan, said he was keen to put the lessons learned, particularly in the past two seasons, to the test in 2018.
"The club has shown a lot of faith, and they've created a lot of stability” Gay said.
"(The consistency in the coaching ranks) creates a strong culture.”
Much of the squad's top- line players, like Stedman Medal-winning captain Josh Wheeler, classy goalkicker Matt Schlein and the consistent Matt Saunders, are expected to return.
The club will lose Damon Oakley, who represented South Queensland in 2016, along with several others.
"Most of the guys will still be there,” Gay said.
Most importantly, Gay said, the younger cohort will add depth to the list.
The Power won the under-16 flag this season, and several of its stars are expected to graduate into the senior competition.
"We've had a number of younger kids playing A-grade regularly so we're excited about the future.”
MARYBOROUGH Bears' return to the top grade played a major role in AFL Wide Bay reverted to its original five-team format.
AFL Wide Bay president Mark Mason said he was proud to see the Bears back.
"They have good structures in place and it's fantastic to see them make the step up,” Mason said.
Cross-conference games between Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay will continue.