Season in short
From the moment he kicked the first goal of the season 20 seconds into the opener against Fremantle, to lifting the premiership cup on grand final day, it’s been quite the season for Marcus Bontempelli.
In between, the 20-year-old won his first Sutton Medal, was selected in the All-Australian side and was named captain of the AFLPA's 22under22 team. He also become the youngest winning captain in the history of the game when he led the side to victory over the West Coast Eagles in round 11.
While the smooth moving Bontempelli’s 2016 season saw him shift into the upper echelon of the competition’s best midfielders, his ability to turn games when moved forward gave Luke Beveridge another shiny new weapon.
Think Adelaide in round seven, West Coast in round 11, Port Adelaide in round 12 and a goal at the 16-minute-mark of the final term of the preliminary final to give his side the lead. The Dogs never looked back.
Then there were the stats. Third at the Club for total disposals, fourth for metres gained, first for contested possessions, first for clearances, first for tackles, third for goals and first for score involvements.
Still, it feels like he’s just getting started.
The stat that mattered
Bontempelli finished fifth in the AFL Player Ratings, the youngest player in the top 100.
What they said
“I wanted to achieve some consistency (this year) and become a player that was able to turn up week-in, week-out. That, as well as some off-field stuff around relationships with the boys.
“I think that’s the thing that makes this [season] so special is the relationship you’ve got with each player here and that’s something I think I’ve grown in because of the love for the Club and the love for the people here.
“On-field it was just about playing good footy for as long as I could and helped get this team across the line.”
Season in short:
While second year blues might have made an easy headline, it certainly wasn’t the case for Marcus Bontempelli.
The Bulldogs midfielder built on the foundations laid in his first year of senior football, and continued his rapid rise.
His ball-winning ability was evident from his first season, but ‘The Bont’ developed several other sides to his game under the watchful eye of Luke Beveridge and midfield coaches Steven King and Joel Corey.
He had the fourth most tackles of anyone at the Club, highlighting his ability to defend, and his ‘clutch’ goals showed his ability to head forward and step up in big occasions.
He averaged 21 disposals, five tackles and three marks, and ranked sixth in the league for inside 50s.
The 19-year-old was selected in the AFL Players Association 22 Under 22 team, and finished second on the Dogs’ leader board in the AFL Coaches Association Player of the Year award.
The stat that mattered:
Bontempelli soared into the Top 20 AFL Player Ratings at the end of the season. Currently at 11th in the rankings, he is the youngest player in the top 100.
What they said:
“This year’s been a bigger learning curve, I was challenged quite a bit more, forced to learn a bit more about myself, not only as a player but how I deal with things off-field and how that reflects on-field. Probably being a more holistic player and contributing in more areas of the game, than what I was able to in my first year.” – Marcus Bontempelli, September 2015
“Bonti backed up an impressive first year, he’s starting to find what his strengths are and he’s getting a lot of confidence now… You saw him spend more time around the footy but also how damaging he can be taking his opponent forward and you started to see him pluck some in the forward 50 and as a mid now, with him spending more time going forward you’re going to see a player that can play inside, outside and covers a lot of ground as well. He just wants to be the best player he can be and he wants to get there.” – Steven King (Western Bulldogs Assistant Coach), September 2015
Season in short:
If Marcus Bontempelli’s debut season at the Kennel was a pointer to the career that lies ahead, then Bulldogs fans have much to look forward to.
Around the stoppages, down back, and in front of goals, Bontempelli showed in his first year that he had the tools to do it all.
Recruited from the Northern Knights with the fourth pick overall in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, Bontempelli played 16 games in his first season of AFL football after debuting in round five against Carlton.
But despite the hype and highlights reel, it’s the ethic of the humble, unassuming and hard-working teenager that has had most in awe.
Bontempelli won the Club’s Chris Grant Best First Year Player Award at the Sutton Medal in September, and earned the praise too of his peers at season’s end, Bontempelli was a landslide victor in the AFL Players’ Association Best First Year Player Award.
The 18-year-old polled nearly five times the votes as runner-up Luke Dunstan of St Kilda, becoming just the first Bulldogs player to win the award.
Bontempelli was runner-up in the NAB AFL Rising Star Award to Brisbane’s Lewis Taylor, missing-out by just one vote in the closest polling in the award’s history.
He averaged 16 disposals and one goal in his debut year, and earned a Hungry Jacks Goal of the Year nomination for his match-winning snap against Melbourne in round 15.
Bontempelli collected 20 disposals or more on four occasions in his first year, with his 24 disposal match against Port Adelaide his most prolific ball winning performance.
Stat that mattered:
Bontempelli’s versatility both up forward and through the midfield saw him rank first out of all first year platers in the competition for inside 50s, third for clearances and fifth for goals.
What he said:
“I think if you buy into your own press you can start to drop off in your own performance - you can't think about it too much.” Marcus Bontempelli speaking ahead of the NAB AFL Rising Star Awards.
“I’m so grateful to have joined such a great club, and a great group of boys…I can’t wait to go on into the future with this group.” – Marcus Bontempelli speaking at the Sutton Medal.
“He has been a pleasure work with for the coaches and the senior players love him for his attitude and desire to get better… a couple of VFL games that Marcus played earlier in the season were just exceptional, so it’s no surprise to us that he has been able to step in and actually make a very sound contribution early.” List Manager Jason McCartney on Bontempelli.