It’s difficult to fault Casey’s start to the VFL season as it has won all 11 of its games to date and sits clearly on top of the ladder at the halfway point of the year.

But that doesn’t mean Casey coach Mark Corrigan is letting his side rest on its laurels.

Before the season started, Corrigan spoke about the inconsistent patches of play his side had shown in pre-season contests. But ever since Round 1 came along, the Demons have largely eradicated problems out of their game as they are still yet to be beaten in the VFL in 2022.

Corrigan said he didn’t expect Casey to come out so red hot and to maintain the rage for 11 consecutive games.

“I definitely didn’t expect what we’ve seen so far,” Corrigan told Casey Media. “At the start of the year we didn’t put a number of wins we wanted to see as you never know what you’ll get with changing AFL lists and the evolving nature of the VFL competition.

“We set out to provide a program where transitioning from VFL to AFL footy is as seamless as possible while providing opportunities for VFL players to put their names up in lights and we’ve been fortunate in terms of our list health and how we’ve been able to put good players on the park each week.”

Winning 11 straight games to start a VFL season is no easy feat. But Corrigan doesn’t want his side to be defined by its breakneck start to its 2022 campaign. Instead, he wants his team to continue building on a very solid platform of consistent performance that it has set for itself.

When reflecting on the 11 games of footy Casey has played this season, Corrigan said the consistency of his players and the maintained effort his players have given in all games has been a standout.

With players coming from a range of footy backgrounds, the Casey coach is impressed by the even drive he’s seen from his list.

“It’s their consistency week to week that hasn’t deviated much,” Corrigan said. “The AFL players come back and are hungry to get selected again, then we’ve had consistent buy in from the VFL list both young and old who have helped guide the younger AFL and VFL players through and ensure everyone’s attitude is outstanding.

“Bringing all of those individual purposes together can be a major challenge, but the attitude everyone has displayed and their consistency of performance and in their behaviours each week is as good as I’ve seen and it’s this intensity with the non-negotiables that’s been a highlight.”

Like any season, Casey has had several players burst out of the blocks and impress in the first half of 2022 While leaders and veterans Mitch White and Jimmy Munro continue to amaze Corrigan for the unrelenting standards they bring to the group, it’s the depth and even contribution from all players that has tickled Corrigan’s fancy.

“We’ve played 21 of our 23 VFL-listed players already which is great to see them stand up and deliver,” Corrigan said. “I recall Matt Johnson playing one game and delivering when we needed it against Box Hill while the younger boys in Bryce Milford, Ryan Koo and Tommy McRae have found their feet and played super footy as 23rd players.

“Then Andy Moniz-Wakefield has shown enormous growth and development while Roan Steele has played all but one game since coming into the program – it’s not been just one or two players who have surprised me, it’s the pride in the entire group that’s been critical.”

In a season to date that has been filled with celebrations and highlights, it’s not easy for the Casey coach to pick one moment that stands out. Plenty of goals have been kicked and the entire list has produced remarkable moments when required. But a one-percenter from a young player in a marquee match stands out in Corrigan’s mind as his highlight of the season so far.

“The moment that comes to mind is the Miles Shepherd smother in our ANZAC Day Eve match against Richmond,” Corrigan said. “It generated so much enthusiasm in that game amongst all of our players as it’s what we love to reward and expect a lot of from our players when we don’t have the ball.

“But it’s not the only moment – when you see Daniel Turner play his first AFL game off the back of some good VFL form it’s awesome to see him getting that reward for many moments of hard work.”

Despite all of this positivity and the record that Casey has, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Demons. Contrary to their dominant ladder position and winning streak, the Demons have faced plenty of challenges.

Corrigan recalled the Round 3 away game at Williamstown as a tough and combative contest up until half time, while also saying the Sydney game at the MCG the other week was also a tight contest that his side had to respond to.

But the biggest challenge for Corrigan so far was the one game he was unable to coach live from the ground at, as his side relied on a missed kick after the siren against Essendon in Round 2 to remain unbeaten.

“Personally coaching from afar against Essendon was a big challenge for me,” Corrigan said. “It was frustrating – you constantly try to temper that frustration with what you can control, which isn’t a lot in those situations.

“I didn’t have much of a set up or resources at home, so I was watching the live stream and staying on the phone to Matt Buntine who was injured at the time. But it was a good chance for the assistant coaches to take on more responsibility and they did a fantastic job against a good opposition.”

But Corrigan knows his side can’t afford to reflect on its amazing start too much. This weekend the Demons return to action when they make their first interstate trip to face Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon.

The Suns are coming off a good win against GWS last weekend, so Corrigan knows his side can’t get complacent against Gold Coast.

“The Suns were good last week and have lots of AFL-listed players on their side who play well,” Corrigan said. “Then we have the travel component, as it will be the first time for some travelling for a game.

“It’s a big challenge in a different environment and with a new pre-game preparation for players, but it can also be great in building more synergy and connection and creating excitement for some of our VFL players.”

With the Demons sitting clearly on top of the VFL ladder, the sky is the limit for the red and blue. But Corrigan is keeping his eyes down and avoiding getting too far ahead of himself. In the fast-moving VFL world, the Casey coach knows success is best earned by remaining in the present moment.

“None of our goals change from the start of the season,” Corrigan said. “Instead we look back at the first 11 games and say that they validate what we are doing while still looking to improve.

“We want to not get complacent or content with what we’ve done to date and instead look to get better again. A lot can change between now and the end of the year, so we’ll keep looking at the short term and keeping everyone engaged and improving.”