THE Heathcote District Football Netball League faces a tough challenge to remain inside the AFL Victoria Community Championship's top 20 leagues.
The Nick Carter-coached side will take on the Geelong and District Football Netball League tomorrow at North Geelong, with the winner to be entrenched in the top 20 for at least another year.
The former AFL player and Bendigo Football Netball League stalwart will be looking for the competition's first championship win since 2015, when the league defeated the neighbouring Central Murray Football Netball League in a twilight match at Bendigo's Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Since then, the league has struggled in the expanded competition, losing to the Bellarine Football Netball League by 80 points at Ocean Grove in 2016, followed by a 43-point defeat to Central Murray last year.
Daniel Coates, Matt Perri, Ryan Prendergast and Logan Prout were all confirmed as on-field players as part of the HDFNL's 24-player squad announcement on Wednesday, with Hoby Bussey and Jack Gleeson on the extended bench.
Tomorrow's hosts defeated North Central by four points in an accurate performance at Wedderburn last year, with the league's last lost occurring in 2015 against the NCFL.
Last season's grand finalists, Bell Post Hill and Inverleigh dominated the 46-player training squad, with players from these two teams filling close to half of the positions of those in contention.
The league's proximity to the Geelong Football Netball League – which currently tops the AFL Victoria Community Championship rankings – will also give the hosts the edge.
The winner of this match will move to 17th in the rankings and take on the loser of the game between Bellarine Football Netball League and Wimmera Football Netball League in 2019.
The losing team will fall outside the top 20, with a match involving the winner of the clash between the Riddell Football Netball League and Central Highlands Football Netball League on the cards in 12 months' time.
PREDICTION: Geelong and District will record a 30-point win.