The Highland Wildcats Junior squad started their 2014 campaign yesterday at Beltane Park, Wishaw against last year’s conference champions, the Lanarkshire Longhorns.
The game started in the worst possible fashion for the Wildcats when Longhorns player Grant Winter returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown for the home side.
The Wildcats dominated on defense in the first half pinning the Longhorns back on nearly every play. Some great tackles from Wildcats Linebacker Jamie Anderson and Defensive End Jordan Coia limited the Longhorns ability to get an offensive drive moving up field. However the home side’s fast cutbacks from a strong outside run game gave them two big break away plays with Winter picking up two impressive touchdowns in the opening two quarters.
The Wildcats offense looked strong on most drives in the first half, with some solid run plays from running back Cameron Davies. However the Highland side fell short of the endzone on all of their drives in the first half.
The score at half time saw the Longhorns in the lead by 22 – 0.
The Wildcats came back fighting in the second half with an offensive drive lead by Quarterback Chris Shaw that saw him pass to Tight End Erem Demirel several times for some big gains and eventually a rushing touchdown from Cameron Davies put points on the board for the visitors. This was converted by Demirel for two points.
The Wildcats took the Longhorns by surprise with an onside kick giving them back possession. They took advantage of this with another good drive culminating in touchdown pass from Shaw to Demirel.
The Wildcats defense held strong but it wasn’t long before Lanarkshire found the endzone again picking up a further two touchdowns in the second half.
With the score at 42 – 14 the Wildcats gave one final push and with more strong runs from Davies; quarterback Johnny Fowler was set up in great field position to run the ball into the endzone for a touchdown.
Wildcats 20 – 42 Longhorns
Wildcats Head Coach, Robbie Paulin commented, “I feel we achieved a lot on our game plan. We knew the Longhorns were going to be fast around the outside and our guys did a good job of containing it. However Grant Winter’s speed on cut backs still caught us out. Coach Clee has got a great squad and there’s no doubt in my mind it was probably one of the toughest games to start the season with!
I feel that we dominated on both offense and defense however The Longhorns defense held strong in the last 5 – 10 yards on each drive and our defense were just unable to stop the Longhorns fast break away runs.
It was great to play such a well organised team and our guys will be take a lot away from the game and have learnt a lot.
I’d like to thanks the Longhorns for their hospitality as well!”
Photos by Lynne Samuel