HACL W4: Knights 25 – 20 Stags

HACL, Week 4

Article by Tom Green…

Bught Park, Inverness


Scoring Summary

1st Half

CHA 6-0 BLA – Hilditch (Interception for TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 6-6 BLA – Maclean to Lewis Taylor (TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 6-12 BLA – Holleyoake (TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 12-12 BLA – Campbell to Blackhall (TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 13-12 BLA – Campbell to Blackhall (1pt Conversion)

2nd Half

CHA 19-12 BLA – Robertson (TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 19-18 BLA – Maclean to Brannen (TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 25-18 BLA – Robertson (TOUCHDOWN)

CHA 25-20 BLA – Brannen (DEUCE)

Photo by Scott MacDonald

Photo by Scott MacDonald

In week 4 the Charleston Academy Knights won a tight encounter against the Black Isle Stags, in effectively the rehearsal before next week’s final, 25-20 in Inverness last Saturday. The game was so tightly contested that Black Isle had an opportunity to win the game on the final second of the clock after scoring a deuce (when a player on the defense intercepts the ball and scores on an extra point attempt) on the previous drive.

The Stags won the toss and started with possession of the ball. Unfortunately, for the Stags, the Knights’ defense started off the game aggressively and were rewarded almost immediately when Lewis Hilditch intercepted quarterback James Maclean to score the opening touchdown of the game. The Knights were unable to convert the touchdown.

The Stags’ offense quickly recovered after this small set back and was able to score on the very next drive when Maclean found receiver Lewis Taylor on the end of a touchdown pass. This touchdown also went unconverted.

The Stags now had the momentum in the game and shut the Knights’ offense down forcing them to have a quick 4 and out. Black Isle then capitalised on the situation and took the lead for the first time in the game when running back Kyle Holleyoake rushed into the endzone to give the Stags a 6 point lead. They were once again unable to convert their touchdown.

After this, the Knights fought back and were able to tie the game up once more when quarterback Calvin Campbell found Sam Blackhall on the end of his touchdown throw. This time, the Knights were able to convert the touchdown as Blackhall on the very next play found Stewart again to retake the lead. This would turn out to be the last scoring drive of the half as both defenses stepped up for the last 4 drives before the halftime intermission.

After the halftime break, Charleston was able to increase their lead to 7 points when running back Craig Robertson rushed the endzone on the first drive of the half. The conversion attempt which followed the touchdown was unsuccessful but it left the Knights in a strong position.

This lead was then narrowed on the next drive when Maclean threw a touchdown pass to Dean Brannen which shrunk the Knights lead to only 1 point. The Stags would have taken the lead on the next play but the stoic Charleston defense held steadfast to maintain the edge.

Charleston was then held up by the Black Isle defense who then came close to scoring on the following drive only to be held up outside of the Charleston endzone. The Knights’ offense then rallied and Robertson scored his second touchdown of the day to give the Knights a 7 point lead with only one second remaining on the game clock. On the conversion attempt, Dean Brannen intercepted a loose pass from Campbell to score a deuce. This narrowed the Knights’ lead to 5 points and meant that the Stags were now in a situation to win the game with an unconverted touchdown on the final play.

Unfortunately, for the Stags, the passing play was incomplete which meant that Charleston won the ball game. The Knights then went on to complete a perfect regular season campaign by defeating the Inverness High School Predators 50-6 in their final match up. The Stags then went on to defeat the Inverness Royal Academy Sharks 64-6 in their last game of the regular season.

Check back later in the week for the “Road to Highland Bowl” preview!

HACL W3: Knights 22-18 Eagles

HACL Week 3, Game 1

Bught Park, Inverness


Article by Tom Green…

Scoring Summary

1st Half

Campbell to McIntyre (Touchdown)

Campbell to Blackhall (2pt Conversion)

Kelly to Roberts (Touchdown)

Kelly to Paterson (Touchdown)

Campbell? to Stewart (Touchdown)

Knights 1pt conversion

2nd Half

Kelly to Roberts (Touchdown)

Campbell to Blackhall (Touchdown)

Campbell to Stewart (1pt Conversion)

Charleston Academy Knights VS Millburn Academy Eagles

Photo by Scott MacDonald

In the final game of week 3 the Charleston Academy Knights faced off with the Millburn Academy Eagles who needed a victory to stay in with a shot at making the Highland Bowl which resulted in one of the most dramatic games in HACL history with the game going right down to the wire.

The Knights opened the scoring early in the first half when Calvin Campbell found centre Fergus McIntyre in the endzone for a touchdown. This touchdown was then converted for 2 points when Campbell passed to receiver Sam Blackhall to give the Knights an 8 point lead.

This lead didn’t last long as Millburn fought back with a touchdown of their own when Quarterback Connol Kelly found running back Alex Roberts on the end of his touchdown pass. Unfortunately for the Eagles the conversion attempt which followed was unsuccessful but it resulted in a momentum shift in the game.

The Eagles then took the lead after stopping the Knights’ offense on the following drive when Kelly found receiver Aaron Paterson on the end of a precision pass to give the Eagles a 4 point lead. Once again the conversion attempt which followed the touchdown drive was unsuccessful but Millburn proved that they weren’t going to let the Knights get the better of them.

The Knights then fought back hard on the offensive side of the football and retook the lead when Campbell found Reece Stewart to give the Knights the lead. This lead was then increased to 3 points after the successful one point conversion attempt. This was the last touchdown of the half and the Knights were now leading the game 15 points to 8.

After the half time break Hudson’s Eagles rallied and successfully retook the lead once more when Kelly once again found Roberts. Unfortunately, for the Eagles, The Knights’ defense were not going to allow Millburn the extra points which meant that the game was going to have a classic ending.

After several unsuccessful drives the Knights once more found a way in front as Campbell found Blackhall in the endzone for yet another touchdown. The Touchdown was then converted by Campbell who passed to Stewart in the endzone which gave the Knights a 4 point lead. With only minutes remaining in the game the Knights’ defense stepped up big time and made it impossible for the Eagles to breakdown and eventually they managed to reclaim possession of the football after a turnover on downs. The clock then went to zero and arguably one of the best games in league history was over.

HACL W2: Knights 28 – 14 Stags

Charleston Academy Knights 28-14 Black Isle Stags

HACL Week 2, Game 1

Bught Park, Inverness


Article by Tom Green…


Scoring Summary

1st Half

CHA 6-0 BLA – Reece Stewart

2nd Half

CHA 6-6 BLA – Brannen (TD)

CHA 6-8 BLA – 2pt Conversion

CHA 6-14 BLA – Brannen (TD)

CHA 14-14 BLA – McIntyre (TD)

CHA 20-14 BLA – Craig Robertson (TD)

CHA 26-14 BLA – Craig Macintosh (TD)

CHA 28-14 BLA – 2pt Conversion


The Charleston Academy Knights went to the top of the 2016 HACL after defeating the experienced Black Isle Stags 28-14. Heading into the game, both the Black Isle Stags and Charleston Academy Knights entered week 2 of the HACL season undefeated and this game was billed as the biggest game of the weekend. The weather during the game varied from heavy rain and sleet in the first half to sunshine during the second.

Charleston took the lead in the first half of the game when Reece Stewart scored a touchdown. Unfortunately, for the Knights, the conversion attempt which followed was no good but it ensured that the Knights would go into the half time interval 6 points ahead of the Stags.

In the second half Black Isle’s offense started to flourish and their efforts were rewarded when Dean Brannen got a game tying touchdown early in the half. The two point conversion attempt which followed was successful and Black Isle now had the lead in the game. The Stags then extended their lead shortly after the 1st TD when Brannen scored his second of the game. Unfortunately for the Stags the conversion attempt was no good and it meant that Charleston were only a touchdown behind their divisional rivals.

The Knights then tied the game up once again when Fergus McIntyre scored his first touchdown of the weekend. They were not able to retake the lead on the extra point attempt which followed but the Knights now had the momentum in the game. Not long afterwards, as a result of the momentum shift, Craig Robertson scored a touchdown which gave Charleston the lead (the extra point attempt was no good). Craig Macintosh then doubled the Knights lead with not much time remaining and the 2pt attempt which followed was good which sealed the Knights victory in the second half. This result took the Knights to the top of the table. Charleston also coincidentally are now on an 8 game winning streak in the regular season since their defeat to the Inverness High School Predators in week 2 of the 2015 season.

HACL W2: Preds 19 – 6 Sharks

Inverness High School Predators 19-6 Inverness Royal Academy Sharks

HACL Week 2, Game 1

Bught Park, Inverness


Article by Tom Green…


Scoring Summary

1st Half

IHS 6-0 IRA – Chisholm to Florence (TD Pass)

2nd Half

IHS 6-6 IRA – Lewis Robertson (Fumble Recovery TD)

IHS 12-6 IRA – Trommino (TD Run)

IHS 13-6 IRA – 1PT Conversion

IHS 19-6 IRA – Trommino (TD Run)


The Inverness High School Predators started off the second week of the 2016 HACL by defeating the Inverness Royal Academy Sharks 19-6 in their opening game of the week’s action. The weather during the game varied from heavy rain and sleet in the first half to sunshine during the second. Both teams showed up in numbers despite the weather which resulted in a highly competitive game.

In the first half, the Sharks defense was able to hold the Predators offense on multiple drives by shutting down the IHS running game. Unfortunately, for the Sharks, the Predators still had options in the air and managed to open the scoring when quarterback Michael Chisholm found center Jason Florence on the end of a touchdown pass. The Predators were unable to convert the touchdown but it meant that the Predators would go into the halftime break 6-0 up.

The Sharks defense continued to be a threat after the half time break and their efforts were rewarded when Lewis Robertson recovered a fumble in the endzone for a defensive touchdown. The Sharks were unable to convert the touchdown on the following play which resulted in the game being tied up at 6-6.

Following this, the Predators offense stepped up their game and started to put pressure on the Sharks defensive unit. This pressure resulted in Wildcats veteran Euan Trommino scoring the first rushing touchdown of the game. Trommino’s touchdown was then converted for 1 point which gave the High School a 7 point lead.

The Predators then put the game out of reach when Trommino scored another rushing touchdown which won the defending champion’s first win of the 2016 season. The Sharks, on the other hand, may have lost but there were a lot of positives to take out from the game (especially on the defensive side of the football).

HACL W1: Eagles 14 – 0 Raptors

Millburn Academy Eagles 14-0 Culloden Academy Raptors

HACL Week 1, Game 3

Bught Park, Inverness


Article by Tom Green…


Scoring Summary:

1st Half

No Scores

2nd Half

MIL 6-0 CUL – Roberts (TD Rush)

MIL 8-0 CUL – Paterson (2pt Conversion)

MIL 14-0 CUL – Kelly to Paterson (TD Pass)


The Millburn Academy Eagles and the Culloden Academy Raptors went into the final game of week 1 of the HACL coming off contrasting games. The Raptors won their opening game against the Inverness Royal Academy Sharks 20 points to six. Millburn on the other hand were blown away in their first game 38-0 against the dominaneering Black Isle Stags. Both teams had a lot to gain from this game and the game was fiercely intense and was very similar to the time both teams met in Highland Bowl I 2 years ago.

For the first time in HACL history no one was able to score in the first half of the game because both defenses were playing the game of their lives with neither team relenting during the first half.

The game looked like it was going to finish scoreless but then out of nowhere 2015 Rookie of the Season Alex Roberts found a way through the Raptors defense to break the deadlock. The Touchdown was converted by Aaron Paterson (who filled in for Roberts on the 2pt conversion attempt) to give the Eagles an 8 point lead. Millburn then increased their lead to 14 points as QB Connel Kelly threw down field to Paterson which put the game just out of reach for the Raptors.

Culloden Academy Raptors did come close to scoring on multiple occassions during the 2nd half but they were unable to break through the Millburn defense. The closest they got to scoring came on defense when Shaun Gemmel intercepted a loose Kelly pass and came so very close to reaching the endzone before being taken down by the Eagles offensive unit.

The result leaves both teams on a 1-1 record heading into week 2 and both teams will be looking to go one better in week 2 of the HACL.

HACL W1: Eagles 0 – 38 Stags

Millburn Academy Eagles 0-38 Black Isle Stags

HACL Week 1

Bught Park, Inverness


Article by Tom Green…



Scoring Summary:

1st Half

BI 6-0 MIL – Maclean to Stewart (TD Pass)

BI 8-0 MIL – Maclean to Brannen (2pt Conversion)

BI 14-0 MIL – Maclean to Taylor (TD Pass)

BI 16-0 MIL – Maclean to Brannen (2pt Conversion)

BI 22-0 MIL – Taylor (TD Rush)

BI 24-0 MIL – Home (Safety)

BI 30-0 MIL – Maclean to Taylor (TD Pass)

2nd Half

BI 36-0 MIL – Taylor (TD Rush)

BI 38-0 MIL – Maclean to Taylor (2pt Conversion)

The Black Isle Stags started off there HACL campaign with a comprehensive 38-0 victory over the Millburn Academy Eagles at the begginning of the days proceedings. The Stags opened the scoring with a touchdown pass from QB James Maclean to Mickey Stewart on their opening drive. The touchdown was then converted for 2 points when Maclean found Dean Brannen on the end of a 12 yard pass.

The Stags then doubled their lead when Maclean threw a pass down field to RB Lewis Taylor. This touchdown was then converted for 2 more points when Maclean once more found Brannen on the end of a 12 yard pass down field. Black Isle kept the pressure on Millburn and scored once more when Lewis Taylor rushed in for Black Isle’s first rushing TD of the campaign. Unfortunately, for Black Isle, the conversion attempt which followed was successfully defended by Millburn but the Stags were now 22 points ahead of the Eagles.

Black Isle dominated on defense as well as offense and eventually their efforts on defense were rewarded after the Eagles had a loose snap which resulted in Michael Home getting a safety. The Stags then rounded off a successful half when Maclean found Taylor once more to put the Stags 30 points ahead of the Eagles heading into the half time intermission.

The Eagles now fighting for their pride more than anything started to get them selves back into the game in the second half but they were unable to put any points on the board in the second half. Unfortunately, for them, Black Isle still had one touchdown in them and Lewis Taylor ran in for his second rushing touchdown of the day. This was then converted by Maclean who found Taylor in the endzone to leave the score at 38-0 to the Stags.

Cold but Successful Start

Article by Tom Green…


The third season of the highly successful Highland Academies Community League officially began last Saturday when members from all six teams participated in the first contact practice of the season. 51 active players (as well as 2 inactive players) participated in the session at the Bught Park in Inverness despite sub-zero temperatures and icy conditions underfoot. Remarkably this also is currently the highest turnout to any recorded HACL practice surpassing the previous record which was set on the very first HACL practice held back in 2014 which was attended by just below 50 players. On top of this, 26 coaches and voluntary staff were involved in the organisation and execution of the session led by Highland Wildcats head coach Robbie Paulin.

Because of the icy conditions on the field the practice plan had to be adjusted to reduce the risk of player hitting the ground and sustaining injuries. On the bright side this allowed the coaches to concentrate on installing offensive plays and work on fundamentals of the game such as blocking and catching. The extra time also allowed the Quarterbacks to work on there passing mechanics the supervision of the QB coaches.

A shout out has to go to the Charleston Academy Knights who had a turnout of 16 players after another successful recruitment drive at the school. The turnout for the Millburn Academy  Eagles was also fairly impressive as they turned up with 11 players with the Inverness Predators not far behind with 9.

Another positive which can be taken from turnout is the fact that the majority of the players from every team present have never played a game for the Wildcats unlike in previous seasons. This shows promising signs for HACL seasons in the future because it demonstrates that there is a high and, more importantly, a steady demand for the competitive local American football in the Highlands. This should hopefully be a good recipe for another tightly contested season.

Head coach Robbie Paulin commented, “I was really pleased with how many players came along on the day when I thought it would be a complete write-off because of the weather conditions. The new Blitz facility added to the experience and there was a fantastic atmosphere from all of the new players. The more experienced players and coaches made all the rookies feel welcome which is something that is really important to the Community League. IT’s one of the most successful first sessions we’ve had in terms of attendance, atmosphere and having to adapt to difficult conditions.”

E-Colors Champions

E-Colors Champions

Ben McMahon from E-Colors talks about the Highland Wildcats, pioniering the E-Color’s Champion programme in Europe…

“Over the last two years it has been an absolute pleasure to bring E-Colors to the Highland Wildcats, but what makes it even more special is to see these young people grow and develop not just on the field but in the community as well.

On behalf of Equilibria, Tina McGregor and myself, I am thrilled that I am able to recommend that Euan Crawford, Haris Ryalls, Colin Hamilton, Chris Shaw and Stephen McMeechan be named E-Color champions which are the first of their kind in Europe.

Having had a chance to speak to them about their experience with E-Colors and personal intervention it became clear that they had learnt to implement and excel at both, leading them to be much more intentional leaders moving forward and to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way

I will be keeping an eye on these young men moving forward as I expect to see some great things as they guide others within the Highland community to becoming E-Colors champions.

An E-Colors champion is someone who has become fully aware of their own strengths and potential limiters and how best to use them. They understand that not everyone is the same and all need to be treated like individuals. There is an old saying: “treat someone how you would like to be treated”. At Equilibria we believe in something slightly different: “treat people how they would like to be treated”. An E-Color champion also understands personal intervention and the power of choice and that no one can control your actions but yourself.”

Here’s Ben McMahon and Tina McGregor talking a little bit about E-Colors at this year’s Blitz Awards back in November:

Pre-Season Skills Clinic

Article by Tom Green…

Highland Football Academy

Charleston Academy KnightsIn preparation for the Highland Wildcats and HACL 2016 seasons the organization held its annual skills clinic at the Highland Football Academy in Dingwall on Sunday the 13th December 2015. 65 players in total from around the 6 high school teams and the Junior Highland Wildcats turned up for the three hour event assisted by 12 coaches and 5 other volunteer staff.

The largest turnout from any of the HACL teams was 14 players from last year’s HACL finalists the Charleston Academy Knights who made up the second largest group at the clinic behind the Junior Highland Wildcats. As an added bonus every HACL team present at the clinic brought at least 5 players which is a huge success in itself.

During the clinic head coach Robbie Paulin introduced a new tackling technique for the 2016 season called Hawk tackling. The technique used in the NFL and by current BUCS Champions the Stirling Clansmen removes the head from American football tackling in order to reduce concussions which brings the sport more in line with the style of tackling used in Rugby Union. In order to train the players in the new techniques the Wildcats brought along two Shadowman tackling aids which gave the players the opportunity to practice tackling in a safe and enjoyable way alongside other drills.


Wildcats with Shadowman

Some of the Wildcats and HACL players trying out the new Shadowman Tackling Dummies. We also introduced Hawk Tackling for the first time. Still got a lot of work to do with the technique but the Shadowman is definitely helping!

Posted by Highland Wildcats on Monday, 14 December 2015

As well as the introduction of Hawk Tackling the players were put through their paces in a range of positional based drills in order to give those new to the sport an idea of where they would like to play in the upcoming season.

Young Ambassador

Haris RyallsOne of the Highland Wildcats players was part of a sportscotland event earlier this week in Eden Court. Haris Ryalls was selected from pupils in Inverness Highschool and invited to the Highland wide event aimed at training young people to become ambassadors for sport in their school.

Young Ambassadors is a programme for young people in school between the ages of 14 and 17 run by sportscotland. Their role is to motivate and inspire other young people from primary and secondary schools across Scotland to get involved in sport and to generate enthusiasm for major games.

Haris was offered the opportunity after his continuing work promoting sport (including American football) to younger pupils and to people in his own year. He has set up sessions through the Wildcats Pathways programme and working with Active Schools. He was also part of the staff for the Highland Academy Community League team in the Inverness High School.

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