Ben Lovett has enjoyed the type of season most junior footy players can only dream of.
But there's still nothing like playing with mates in his school side.
Lovett led his Red Bend opens side through an unbeaten Country Cup carnival at Apex Oval on Thursday, earning passage through to the western finals day at Parkes in the process.
The Red Bend opens side was a star-studded one, with Lovett joined by NSW Country under 18s teammates Campbell Woolnough and Jack Hartwig as well as NSW under 16s player Finnley Neilson and fellow representative stars Matt Noakes and Benji Glasheen.
After both Red Bend and Dubbo's St John's College got past Dubbo College Senior Campus early in the day, the two met in a winner-takes-all-battle.
Red Bend scored in the first set of the game through Woolnough and that set the tone for the game.
The Forbes-based school ran out 22-4 winners in the 25-minute game, having a whole lot of fun along the way.
"The schoolboy footy is mad because you play with your mates, the ones you go to school with every day," Red Bend captain Lovett said.
"Most of us boys have been playing together since year seven, so coming in now in our last year it's awesome."
The finals day will be played at Parkes on Wednesday, June 12. There Red Bend will be represented in the under 15s and opens, while the St John's under 13s side won its age group on Thursday to book its place in the finals.
"Two years ago we won the country champs and we won when we were in year seven. Hopefully we can do it in year 12, too," Lovett added after Thursday's showing.
Red Bend was so impressive, in fact, Lovett and some of his other high-profile teammates spent a lot of time on the bench in the win over St John's.
The Dubbo side was outclassed but did show glimpses of its own talent in the match, with Braye Porter and Aston Warwick combining brilliantly at one point to set up their side's lone try for Jake Hutchison.
Most of us boys have been playing together since year seven, so coming in now in our last year it's awesome.Red Bend captain Ben Lovett
While the football was the main attraction, there was much more to the day in Dubbo than just the action on the field.
Through the NRL's partnership with headspace, the youth mental health organisation ran a seminar for all the kids who attended the carnival.
"It's a really important message to get across to the kids at this age, the importance of mental health," NRL Game Development Officer, Davy Elvy said.
"There's a lot of issues in the world we live in these days unfortunately but it's good for the kids to hear how they can talk to people and the people they can talk to.
"We've had about 200 kids go through the workshop and hopefully they've walked away with plenty of information."
That service, combined with the high quality matches, made it a worthwhile carnival for all involved.
"It was a great day of footy. There was some handy players on show," Elvy said.
"Red Bend has always been a strong rugby league school but the other sides went well against them.
"St John's got through in the under 13s so there was plenty of talent around."
Red Bend's opens side will meet James Sheehan Catholic High School in the final at Parkes, while the St John's under 13s will also meet the Orange school there.
The under 15s game will see Red Bend take on St Stanislaus of Bathurst.