Coaching Staff Revealed

Article by Robbie Paulin…

COACHES 2016

We’re just about to get preparations started for our U19 2016 season this weekend so I wanted to take the time to reveal the new set up for the Highland Wildcats coaching staff for the upcoming season.

A lot of things are changing in 2016 and one big positive is that we will, for the first time ever, have a completely separate staff between U17 and U19. In previous seasons we have had to double up in some positions and found it to be really time consuming (not to mention exhausting) for the coaches.

My role in the Junior squad this year will be managing the team and also focusing on the individual development of players and the coaches. So I’d now like to congratulate James Hudson, who will be stepping into the role of head coach. I’m still going to be providing a lot of back up for him by taking on the vast majority of the admin and planning for the team (buses, funding, general admin, facility, registration, game day logistics etc) but I feel he is more than capable of taking on the role of head coach, running practices and making the important calls on gameday! I know he’s going to do a great job! James has been part of all of our Britbowl winning campaigns and also led the offense in the U19s last year to their first ever Scottish Championship. He recently passed his Level 2 BAFCA course and I’m confident he is ready to step into head coach.

I’m actually quite excited about being able to work more on the background operations but still keeping an active role in practice with the quarterbacks and also the individual goal setting and development with the players and staff.

We’ve got a lot of former players and coaches returning to the Junior staff as well, including Gary Davies, who was one of the original coaches of the organisation back in 2000 and was my offensive coordinator when I played Quarterback. Gary has also been involved in the Scotland Youth programme and will be taking charge of our offensive line at U19.

Craig Findlay will be making a return to help with offensive line and also coach the Defensive Line. Craig has seen success with the Wildcats as part of the Britbowl winning squad in 2011 and also went on to win two UK Championships with the University of Stirling Clansmen!

Also, joining us from the 2011 coaching staff is Liam MacKenzie, who has been with the Highland Wildcats since 2000. Liam will be heading up the Wildcats defense this year and will be taking his, near, 16 years of experience to the table.

Former Wildcats player, Shaun Matheson, will be involved in coaching too as well as two new assistant coaches, Tim Glews and Niall Martin. Tim has been a long time fan of the game and is now keen to get involved in his local side. Niall Martin played as part of the Scottish Championship squad last year and recently passed his BAFCA Level 1 and looking to get involved in coaching.

 

The Youth Highland Wildcats will be getting started shortly after the HACL in mid-March and sees a lot of new coaches stepping into various positions. I will be remaining as head coach along with Martin MacPherson as Development Coach. Chris Shaw will be stepping into Defensive Coordinator along with Haris Ryalls at Offensive Coordinator. I’m also really pleased that we will have Britbowl 2011 Champion Kyle Robertson joining us in the Spring Camp and throughout parts of the season. He always adds a massive boost of energy and a fresh eye to the campaign.

Many of the players that have been involved in the recent successful years will be passing on their knowledge and joining the coaching staff in 2016, including: Mark Pyper, Euan Crawford, Stephen McMeechan, Ally Gibson and Joshua Fox. I’ve been so impressed watching these guys coach during the HACL and really looking forward to working with them over the coming national season!

Ben Senior, who recently passed his BAFCA Level 1 course will also be joining our development staff this year for the Youth Wildcats as well as Daniel Woodley who works tirelessly behind the scenes at the Blitz on equipment and the facility itself. Daniel has passed his BAFCA Level 1 course a few years ago but this year has shown an interest in getting involved in coaching so this year will be working alongside our development … I’m hoping he’ll still be keen to keep up his other roles too as he does a lot to keep the club ticking over!

 

I’m really pleased with how the two staffs are coming together and looking forward to working with all of the new and old members! We will likely still be adding a few others over the season but as it stands I think we’ve got a group in place that can really push both teams forward and help them retain the success that they’ve seen in recent years.

Junior Coaching Staff

Manager/Player & Coach Development Robbie Paulin
Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator James Hudson
Defensive Coordinator Liam MacKenzie
Defensive Line Coach Craig Findlay
Offensive Line Coach Gary Davies
Defensive Back Coach Shaun Matheson
Assistant Coach Tim Glews
Assistant Coach Niall Martin

 

Youth Coaching Staff

Head Coach Robbie Paulin
Development Coach (Assistant HC) Martin MacPherson
Offensive Coordinator Haris Ryalls
Defensive Coordinator Chris Shaw
Offensive Line Coach Colin Hamilton
RB / LB Coach Mark Pyper
Quarterback Coach Euan Crawford
Defensive Line Coach Stephen McMeechan
Development Assistant Coach Daniel Woodley
Development Assistant Coach Ally Gibson
Development Assistant Coach Ben Senior
Development Assistant Coach Joshua Fox

Article by Robbie Paulin…

Youth Conferences Announced

BAFA National Leagues have officially announced the conferences for U17. It’s no surprise that the Highland Wildcats will be in the Scottish Conference, however with the change in qualifying for Britbowl, things could be very different. This year there will be no playoff tournament. Basically the top teams from each conference will gain a place in Britbowl. Come second, and there are no second chances!

The Highland Wildcats have come top of the Scottish Conference for the last six years however they will not be taking anything for granted and will be fighting for their spot to make sure they have a chance at defending their national title – Britbowl!

Scotland:
Highland Wildcats, East Kilbride Pirates, Hamilton Buccaneers, Edinburgh Wolves, Aberdeen Roughnecks

North East:
Woodham Warriors, Leeds Academy Assassins, Doncaster Mustangs, Lincolnshire Bombers, Sheffield Predators

North West:
Chorley Buccaneers, Chester Romans, Manchester Titans, Manchester Enthusiasm, Burnley Tornados

Central:
Birmingham Bulls, Birmingham Lions, Tamworth Phoenix, Sandweel Steelers, Shropshire Revolution

South West:
Cornish Sharks, Swindon Storm, Gloucester Centurians, Solent Thrashers, Sussex Thunder

London/South East:
East Kent Mavericks, Kent Exiles, London Blitz, London Warriors, Wembley Stallions

Outer London West:
Buckinghamshire Wolves, Farnham Knights, Berkshire Renegades, Cobham Cougars

Outer London East:
Essex Spartans, Norwich Devils, Colchester Gladiators, Bedford Blackhawks, Hertfordshire Cheetahs

Here’s a look back at the Wildcats journey to Britbowl last season:

 

Britbowl Champions

Article by Tom Green…

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The Highland Wildcats went down to Doncaster on Saturday and became the 3rd team in Youth Britbowl History to retain their UK Championship. During the tournament the Wildcats managed to score 120 points whilst only concerning 51. So without further ado, here is the story of Britbowl XXIX.

Quarter Final

Highland Wildcats 34-19 Kent Exiles

Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster

Box Score:

1st Half 2nd Half Final Score
Highland Wildcats 22 12 34
Kent Exiles 0 19 19

Scoring Summary:

1st Half

HW 6-0 KE – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 24 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 8-0 KE – Stephen McMeechan (Wildcats) Safety

HW 14-0 KE – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 20-0 KE – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 22-0 KE – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points 

2nd Half

HW 22-6 KE – Jack Street (Exiles) Touchdown

HW 28-6 KE – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 2 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 28-12 KE – Sam Crawford (Exiles) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 34-12 KE – Alex Roberts (Wildcats) 21 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 34-18 KE – Sam Crawford (Exiles) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 34-19 KE – Exiles Extra Point

The Wildcats started off their defense of Britbowl against last year’s runners up the Kent Exiles in a re-run of Britbowl XXVIII. Last year the Wildcats won the encounter 22-13 after going behind 7-6 at half time.

The Wildcats started off the game strongly by scoring on their opening drive when Euan Crawford threw a 24 yard passing touchdown to wide receiver Stig McArthur. The extra point attempt which followed the touchdown was no good but it was the start that the Wildcats needed to take control of the game.

On the following drive the defense forced the Exiles back onto their one yard line and then scored a safety when linebacker Corin Robinson tackled the Exiles running back in the endzone. The Wildcats as a result of this then had possession of the ball and took advantage of it straight away with a 45 yard rushing touchdown from veteran running back Mark Pyper. The conversion attempt was no good but it put the reigning champions in a domineering position.

The Exiles were shut out on the following drive which gave the Wildcats possession of the ball. They then used this immediately to great effect with two big rushing plays by running back Kyle Holleyoake (the first was a 29 yard run and the second was a 13 yard run) to set up another touchdown. This touchdown was thrown by Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper to increase the Wildcats lead to 20. The 2 point conversion attempt which followed was successful as Crawford found Stig McArthur in the endzone. This was the final score of the half and it meant that the Wildcats went into half time 22-0 up.

Kent seemingly dead and buried started to stage a comeback and were the first to score in the first half. This touchdown was scored by Exiles player Jack Street. The conversion attempt which followed was no good but it put the Exiles back into  contention. Unfortunately for Kent though Euan Crawford and his offense had different ideas and moved the ball to the Exiles 2 yard line where Crawford threw a 2 yard touchdown pass to receiver Stig McArthur. The conversion attempt was no good but it meant that the Wildcats had an unassailable lead.

The Exiles didn’t give up though and scored again when Exiles running back Sam Crawford ran for a 45 yard touchdown on a break away. The conversion attempt was no good but it put the Wildcats in a weaker position. Unfortunately for Kent the Wildcats scored another touchdown this time it was by rookie running back Alex Roberts with a 21 yard rush. Kent then went on to score one more touchdown on a breakaway run when Sam Crawford ran the length of the field (the 1pt conversion attempt was good) but it was unfortunately for them too little, too late.

Results in the other Quarter Finals

Buckinghamshire Wolves 44-12 Leeds Academy Assassins

Woodham Warriors 32-6 Solent Thrashers

Chorley Buccaneers 13-19 East Kilbride Pirates

Semi Final

Highland Wildcats 24-18 Buckinghamshire Wolves

The Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster

Box Score:

1st Half 2nd Half Final Score
Highland Wildcats 6 18 24
Buckinghamshire Wolves 18 0 18

Scoring Summary:

1st Half

HW 0-6 BW – Ben Thomas (Wolves) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 6-6 BW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 15 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 6-12 BW – Ben Thomas (Wolves) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 6-18 BW – Ben Thomas (Wolves) Rushing Touchdown

2nd Half

HW 12-18 BW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 31 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 18-18 BW – Kyle Holleyoake (Wildcats) 29 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 24-18 BW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 25 Yard Passing Touchdown

IMG_8423The Wildcats entered the stadium for their semi final encounter with the top seeded Buckinghamshire Wolves knowing that this was going to be one of their biggest obstacles to overcome. Victory in this game would send a message to the other teams in the tournament that the Wildcats meant business. On a side note due to competition rules  the Wildcats had to play the semi final in white jerseys which were kindly offered to us by the London Blitz to use in the game.

Unfortunately for Robbie Paulin’s men it didn’t start off to well as Buckinghamshire opened the scoring with a 45 yard rushing touchdown from dangerous running back Ben Thomas. The conversion attempt which followed was unsuccessful but this drive showed the Wildcats why they were such a domineering team in the regular season. The Wildcats however were not intimidated and slowly but surely progressed the ball up field with strong rushes from Mark Pyper and Stephen McMeechan. This passage of play set up Euan Crawford who then threw a 15 yard passing touchdown to Stig McArthur to level up the scores. The Wildcats extra point attempt was unsuccessful but it would prove to be crucial later on in the game.

The Wolves then continued to give the Invernessians a battering and Ben Thomas scored another 45 yard rushing touchdown. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful. On the following drive the Wildcats continued to grind their way up field with strong runs from Kyle Holleyoake but no matter how hard they tried they couldn’t quite find the end zone for the rest of the half. Unfortunately for the Wildcats the Wolves could and once again Ben Thomas scored another rushing touchdown to leave the scores at half time 18-6 to the Wolves.

Up against all odds the Wildcats started to find their rhythm and started grinding out the yards with Kyle Holleyoake taking the biggest battering on offense to set up another Wildcats touchdown which was scored by Crawford who threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to McArthur. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful but it put the Wildcats right back into the game. The defensive unit then started to take control of the game by eliminating the break away runs due to excellent work from Robinson and McMeechan to effectively eliminate the running game.

Following this defensive domination Kyle Holleyoake grinded out even more yards to set up himself on the Wildcats 21 yard line. From here he found a gap in the defense and rushed 29 yards to score his first touchdown of Britbowl. The scores were now level and the tension started to build up on both sidelines with neither one of the defenses relenting.

It looked like it would go down to overtime but then Euan Crawford threw a 25 yard touchdown pass down the field to Stig McArthur to take the lead. The side line erupted with noise and the Wildcats now only needed to see off a few Wolves attacks to get into the final. Luckily for the Wildcats the defense stepped up and shut them down leaving the score 24-18 to the Wildcats at the final whistle.

Other Semi Final Result

Woodham Warriors 18-14 East Kilbride Pirates

Britbowl XXIX

Highland Wildcats 62-14 Woodham Warriors

The Arena, Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster

Box Score:

1st Half 2nd Half Final Score
Highland Wildcats 30 32 62
Woodham Warriors 0 14 14

Scoring Summary:

HW 2-0 WW – Stephen McMeechan (Wildcats) Safety

HW 8-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 12 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 14-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Stig McArthur (Wildcats) 39 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 20-0 WW – Kyle Holleyoake (Wildcats) 25 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 22-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Colin Hamilton (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points

HW 24-0 WW – Corin Robinson (Wildcats) Safety

HW 30-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Lewis Hilditch (Wildcats) 28 Yard Passing Touchdown

2nd Half

HW 36-0 WW – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 2 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 36-6 WW – Thomas Gallagher to James Rawe (Warriors) Passing Touchdown

HW 42-6 WW – Mark Pyper to Stephen McMeechan (Wildcats) 32 Yard Passing  Touchdown

HW 44-6 WW – Mark Pyper to Ally Gibson (Wildcats) 2 Extra Points

HW 50-6 WW – Connel Kelly to Ryan Lee-Topp (Wildcats) 40 Yard Passing Touchdown

HW 56-6 WW – Kyle Holleyoake (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

HW 56-12 WW – Thomas Gallagher to Flyn Leybourne (Warriors) Passing Touchdown

HW 56-14 WW – Warriors 2 Extra Points

HW 62-14 WW – Mark Pyper (Wildcats) 45 Yard Rushing Touchdown

One hour after the victory over the Buckinghamshire Wolves the Wildcats returned to the stadium to play in youth Britbowl XXIX. The Wildcats have played the Warriors once before in the final of Britbowl back in 2011 where the team won 38-34 in a true nail biter which went down to the last 6 seconds. Unfortunately for the the Warriors this final was a bit of a walk over for the reigning champions.

IMG_93152On the opening drive of the game Stephen McMeechan made his presence known immediately by getting behind the line of scrimmage and got held in the endzone. This resulted in the Wildcats getting a safety and possession of the football. It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to use that possession as Euan Crawford threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Stig McArthur for the opening touchdown of the game. The Warriors offense were unable to score during the first half and the Wildcats made them pay by scoring 22 more points before the end of the half.

The first of these points was scored by Euan Crawford who threw a 39 yard passing touchdown to Stig McArthur (the conversion which followed was no good). Following this touchdown Kyle Holleyoake decided that he wanted a bit of the action and rushed in for a 25 yard rushing touchdown. This was then converted by Euan Crawford who threw a 12 yard pass to Colin Hamilton for 2 extra points.

Throughout the game whilst the defense was on the field the Wildcats sideline was a wall of noise that helped the team stop the Warriors offense from being effective. Corin Robinson stepped up throughout the tournament and scored a safety after Kyle’s touchdown which also gave the ball back to the offense. This was then used to great effect with rookie Alex Roberts and 2nd year running back Kyle Holleyoake slowly setting up the offense on the Warriors 16 yard line. Whilst here Euan Crawford threw a 16 yard pass down field to rookie receiver Lewis Hilditch to score another touchdown. The conversion attempt was no good but it left the score at half time 30-0 in favor of the Wildcats.

The Wildcats continued to dominate in the second half. The first of their second half touchdowns was scored by Crawford once again who threw a 2 yard pass to Mark Pyper to increase the Highland lead. After this score the Warriors finally managed to make a break through Thomas Gallagher who managed to find James Rawe in the endzone for a Woodham touchdown. Unfortunately for Woodham this didn’t change the momentum of the game as the Wildcats kept on scoring.

The next Wildcats touchdown was scored on an option play (In this case where the ball is given to the running back in the back field to either pass or run with it) where Mark Pyper threw a 32 yard pass to Stephen McMeechan for a touchdown. On the extra point attempt which followed the Wildcats ran another option play where Ally Gibson received a 12 yard pass from running back Mark Pyper for two extra points. The had already played some rookies in the first half but now took on some of the dedicated development players such as up and coming quarterback Connel Kelly who on his first ever pass in a UK Championship threw a glorious 40 yard touchdown pass to Ryan Lee-Topp for a touchdown.

Following this touchdown and a Woodham offensive drive Kyle Holleyoake stepped up and delivered a 45 yard rushing touchdown to give the Wildcats a 50 point lead. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Warriors as they managed to get a consolation touchdown when Thomas Gallagher threw a pass to Flyn Leybourne (the two point conversion attempt which followed was good) but it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the game.

Following this touchdown Mark Pyper played his last play at youth level and ran in for a 45 yard rushing touchdown to complete the job and bring back the championship.

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3rd Place Playoff

East Kilbride Pirates 20-74 Buckinghamshire Wolves

5th Place Playoff

Leeds Academy Assassins 24-36 Solent Thrashers

7th Place Playoff

Chorley Buccanneers 7-19 Kent Exiles

Britbowl Preview

Article by Tom Green…

In a weeks time the Highland Wildcats will be heading down to the North of England to attempt to defend their UK Championship which they won in 2014. If they are successful they will be the first Club since the Clyde Valley Falcons (back in 2008 and 2009) to achieve this feat.

They would also join an exclusive group of 3 teams who have won three UK titles (the other teams are Clyde Valley Falcons and the Tiptree Titans (formerly known as the Steel City Titans) and become a youth American football dynasty in the UK.

To achieve this they will have to endure three rounds of the toughest American football most of these players will ever face.

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In the first round the Wildcats will have to defeat last year’s finalists the Kent Exiles. They will be looking to get their revenge on us following last year’s 22-13 defeat against the Highland side in Britbowl 28. This season the Exiles won the south eastern conference with a 10-2 record and have been an all round offensive threat in their running game as well as the passing game.

If the youth Wildcats successfully defeat Kent they will have to face either the Leeds Academy Assassins or the Buckinghamshire Wolves.

The Leeds Academy Assassins have shocked the country as a newer team in the National Leagues finishing in a playoff spot. They then won the Northern playoffs after defeating the playoff favourites the Tamworth Phoenix. They have a similar set up to the Wildcats and are not a side to be underestimated.

The Buckinghamshire Wolves could also be playing us in the Semi finals and many have tipped them as favourites to win the title. Like the Wildcats last season they achieved a perfect season and they comprehensively defeated the opposition in the fiercely contested south Western division.

If the Wildcats were to progress into the final they would be playing either the Woodham Warriors who have rebuilt since last seasons disappointment as they failed to make Britbowl, the East Kilbride Pirates who defeated the Wildcats this season, the Chorley Buccaneers who were in Britbowl last year or the Solent Thrashers who won the Southern playoffs.

The Wildcats will have a difficult battle to face but they are more than capable of retaining their crown and bringing glory to the Highlands once more.

Davie Grant #75

Yesterday saw Davie Grant’s last practice coaching with the Highland Wildcats. Tom Green has written a special article looking back on Davie’s involvement with the team:

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Player Profile

Name: Davie Grant

DOB: 6/11/1994 Position: NT/DT

Player Number:

#7 (2009)

#75 (2010-2013)

Playing Career:

Highland Wildcats (u17 Flag) 2009

Highland Wildcats (u17 Kitted) 2010-2011

Highland Wildcats (u19 Kitted) 2013

Personal Accolades:

Blitz Achievement Award 2013

Best Lineman 2013

FBU ALL EUROPE 2012

Best Defensive Lineman 2011

Most Improved Player 2010

Team Honors (As Player)

UK Championship (u17) 2011

Scottish Championship (u17) 2010, 2011

Team Honors (As Coach)

UK Championship (u17) 2014

Scottish Championship (u17) 2012-2015

Biography

Lineman Coach and former Highland Wildcats NT/DT has accepted an offer to go to Stirling University where he has the opportunity to play for the 2013 and 2014 BUCS National Champions the Stirling Clansmen. As a result of this he will be unable to coach the line for the Highland Wildcats through the 2015 post-season due to the Clansmen’s training regime. Here is his football story so far.

Davie Grant first joined the Highland Wildcats back in 2008 at the age of 14 as a junior flag football player. When he joined he wasn’t in the best physical shape and was struggling to make his way through practices. Despite this he helped the Wildcats reach their first Junior UK Championship final back in 2009 where they played the Coventry Bears in the final. The Wildcats won convincingly in a 53-0 rout and became UK Champions for the first time with the young Grant apart of the team.

The Year after Davie moved up the ranks into the under 17 kitted team where he developed his skills as a lineman. Over that season he gradually improved and started to become a dangerous defensive threat which helped the Wildcats win their first Scottish kitted championship in over 5 years. As a result of his growing ability he won the 2010 Blitz Award for the Most Improved Player.

In 2011 Davie became a truly extraordinary player for his age as he demolished every single Centre that had the misfortune of getting in his way. This helped the Wildcats finish the regular season 14-0-1. He then won his second UK championship and his last one as a player when the Highland side won a nail biting final against the Woodham Warriors where the Highlanders won 38-34. This was after trailing by 2 points with only six seconds to go. As a result for his hard work he won the Defensive Lineman of the year at the 2011 Blitz Awards.

In 2012 he was no longer eligible to play at youth level and as the senior team pulled out of the league he couldn’t play domestically. But instead of just simply quitting he became a part of the coaching staff and helped develop the next generation of linemen. In that same year was also selected for the Football University (FBU) Europe Select team after impressing the coaches down at the Stirling Camp in September that year. Whilst with FBU Europe he played at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas where he played against, the British Columbia.

He then played his last season with the Wildcats in 2013 with the newly formed u19 team where he continued to show off his ability at the 11 man game. Despite Davie’s best efforts the Wildcats couldn’t qualify for the post season as they finished the season on a 3-4-1 record but his impact was felt across the division. As a result of his performances throughout his career with the Highlanders he won two awards at the Blitz Awards which followed. The first he won was the Best Lineman for 2013 and his second award of the night was the Blitz Achievement Award for his years of service with the club. In 2014 he concentrated on coaching and won his first Britbowl title as a coach and helped the team retain the Scottish Championship for the 5th time in a row.

Comments and Other Stuff

On a personal note when I was playing for the Junior Wildcats last year I was struggling to find a position which suited me. This meant that I was training with nearly every single Wildcats coach last year. Despite his scary nature on the field, Davie always made sure that everyone who went on his line was pushed hard but would always help those who were struggling. He would often take me to the side and help me go through stances and moves when I was with the D-Line. Although I ended up playing Running Back I am happy that I had the opportunity to train under his wing.

Head Coach, Robbie Paulin commented, “I remember when I first saw Davie at Inverness High School when we delivered flag football sessions there. He took some convincing to come along but I knew the sport could help him a lot…and that we could benefit from having him part of the team. He wasn’t the best athlete and struggled physically at first but he is living proof that determination and hard work can achieve amazing results. He is one of the highest achievers we’ve ever had come through the Wildcats and beyond his playing, he’s been a valued member of my staff. I know he’ll go on to do great things and look forward to the last few games with him on our sideline going in to Britbowl and the Scottish Final for U19.”

Scottish Championship Retained

Article by Tom Green…

Scottish Championship

Last Sunday the youth squad traveled down to East Kilbride and won two out of their three games. This confirmed the high flying Wildcats as Scottish Champions for the 6th year in succession. Unfortunately the Wildcats were unable to complete the regular season undefeated, losing to last year’s Britbowl semi-finalists the East Kilbride Pirates. This loss ended a 25 game winning streak since their last defeat against the Burnley Tornadoes in Britbowl 2013.

Game 1:

Highland Wildcats 42-12 Hamilton Buccaneers

1st Half 2nd Half Final Score
Highland Wildcats 22 20 42
Hamilton Buccaneers 0 12 12

Scoring Summary

1ST HALF

6-0 – Stephen Mcmeechan (HIG) 31 Yard Rushing TD

8-0 – Euan Crawford to Stephen Mcmeechan (HIG) 12 Yard Passing XP

14-0 – Kyle Holleyoake (HIG) 6 Yard Rushing TD

16-0 – Euan Crawford to Alex Roberts (HIG) 12 Yard Passing XP

22-0 – Stephen Mcmeechan (HIG) 6 Yard Rushing TD

2ND HALF

22-6 – HAMILTON BUCCANEERS (Interception) Defensive TD

28-6 – James Maclean to Callum Mccadden (HIG) 17 Yard Passing TD

34-6 – Alex Roberts (HIG) 12 Yard Rushing TD

34-12 – HAMILTON BUCCANEERS 45 Yard Rushing TD

40-12 – Alex Roberts (HIG) 45 Yard Rushing TD

42-12 – James Maclean to Alex Roberts (HIG) 12 Yard Passing XP

The Highland Wildcats started off the tournament against the Buccaneers who they had already defeated twice earlier in the season (66-13 in Edinburgh and 46-6 in Aberdeen). They knew that a win would make the Wildcats Scottish champions due to their superior record against divisional rivals the East Kilbride Pirates.

The Wildcats won the toss and started off with the football. Unlike the last time the two sides met, Highland opened the scoring on their first drive after Stephen McMeechan rushed in for a 31 yard touchdown on the third play of the game. The touchdown was then converted by Euan Crawford who threw a 12 yard pass to McMeechan to put the score at 8-0 to the visitors. The Bucs weren’t able to score on the following drive despite their quarterback throwing a 28 yard  pass for a first down. This was due to McMeechan putting on the pressure from the opening play and strong performances from Corin Robinson, Alasdair Howie and Euan Trommino.

On the very next drive Kyle Holleyoake scored his first touchdown of the game following a 6 yard rush. Crawford then successfully converted the touchdown once again with a 12 yard pass to Alex Roberts to double the Wildcats lead. After this score, on the Hamilton drive, the Wildcats defense shut down the Buccaneers passing game which resulted in a four and out. On the next passage of play McMeechan ended up scoring a 6 yard rushing touchdown which was set up by a long run from Holleyoake and a 15 yard pass from Crawford. Unfortunately this touchdown was not converted but it meant that the Wildcats went into the half time break leading the game 22-0.

After the half time break the Buccaneers fought back on defense when they managed to intercept Wildcats quarterback James Maclean for a defensive touchdown. They were unable to convert. On the following drive though Maclean responded to this minor set back in the best possible way by throwing a 17 yard touchdown to Callum Mccadden.

On the next drive the Wildcats managed to make a huge play on defense as Scott Robertson made an interception which left them in good field position, which they managed to take advantage of as Alex Roberts rushed in for a 12 yard touchdown. This also wasn’t converted.

The Buccaneers did not give up and they managed to score a spectacular 45 yard rushing touchdown three plays later. They were unable to convert it. On the following play Roberts, not satisfied with just the one touchdown, ran in for a 45 yard rushing score. The conversion which followed was successful as James Maclean threw a 12 yard pass to  Roberts which left the score at 42-12 at the final whistle.

Passing Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt Attempts Completions COMP% INT TD QB Rating
Euan Crawford 47 11.75 4 4 100 0 2 136.04
James Maclean 29 9.66 3 2 66.6 1 2 98.64

Rushing Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt TD
Stephen McMeechan 58 11.6 2
Alasdair Howie 19 19 0
Alex Roberts 94 18.8 2
Callum Mccadden 11 2.75 0
Kyle Holleyoake 55 9.166 1

Receiving Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt TD
Stephen McMeechan 29 14.5 1
Alex Roberts 24 12 2
Kyle Holleyoake 6 6 0
Callum Mccadden 17 17 1

Defensive Statistics

ST AT SACKS INT BATT FC FR TD SAF
Stephen McMeechan 0 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Corin Robinson 3 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Euan Trommino 3 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Alasdair Howie 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Stig McArthur 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scott Robertson 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0
Fergus McIntyre 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lewis Taylor 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Fergus Macrae 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
David Robertson 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dean Brannen 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Craig Bruce 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Game 2:

Highland Wildcats 20-24 East Kilbride Pirates

1st Half 2nd Half Final Score
East Kilbride Pirates 12 12 24
Highland Wildcats 6 14 20

Scoring Summary

1ST HALF

6-0 – EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES – 45 Yard Passing TD

6-6 – Euan Crawford to Euan Trommino – 3 Yard Passing TD

12-6 – EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES – 40 Yard Passing TD

2ND HALF

18-6 – EAST KKILBRIDE PIRATES – 42 Yard Passing TD

18-8 – Stephen McMeechan/Alasdair Howie/Corin Robinson – SAFETY

18-14 – Euan Crawford to Stephen McMeechan – 11 Yard Passing TD

24-14 – EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES – 45 Yard Rushing TD

24-20 – Stephen McMeechan –  17 Yard Passing TD

After the victory over the Buccaneers the Highland Wildcats were confident heading into their penultimate game of the regular season. They knew it was going to be a tough game as last year when the two sides met in East Kilbride the Highlanders only just won 28-25 in the closest game of last season (including the UK championships). This year’s encounter was no different as it was a grueling game with both sides making the most of what ever chances they had.

The Wildcats won the toss and started off with the football. Despite Stephen McMeechan making a 20 yard rush (and getting a first down) the visitors were unable to score on their opening drive. The Pirates couldn’t do much in their opening drive of the game either as the Highland secondary were just too strong. The visitors then had a repeat of their opening drive as they couldn’t score despite Kyle Holleyoake making two big runs (one for 10 yards and the other for 5). The Pirates then punished the Wildcats when they got back possession as their quarterback threw a 45 yard pass for the opening score of the game. The conversion attempt which followed was unsuccessful but most importantly they had the lead.

This put the Wildcats on the back foot but this just inspired the team to play harder with Euan Crawford leading the charge on the next drive with two big passes (one 20 yard pass to Stig McArthur and a 15 yard pass to Colin Hamilton). This gave the reigning UK champions good field position which resulted in Crawford throwing a 3 yard pass to wide receiver Euan Trommino. The Highlanders were unable to score on the extra point attempt but it didn’t matter as the Pirates lead had vanished.

It didn’t take long for the Pirates to regain their lead though as on the last play of the half their quarterback threw another huge pass (this time for 40 yards). This resulted in another touchdown for the Pirates, leaving the half time score at 12-6.

The Pirates then stepped up a gear in the second half as their QB threw another huge touchdown pass (42 yards this time) on the opening drive of the half. Despite the conversion being incomplete it put the Wildcats in a sticky situation as they were now 12 points down. It didn’t help that the Pirates defense on the next drive held the Wildcats for a 4 and out.

With the score now so big the Wildcats defense turned up the heat and forced a Pirates fumble in their endzone for a safety (the safety has been accredited to Stephen McMeechan, Alasdair Howie and Corin Robinson). The visitors now had the ball and slowly drove their way up the field until Crawford found Colin Hamilton at the end of a 4 yard pass. Unfortunately the play was deemed by the referees to be an illegal play so the Cats then had a second chance to narrow the lead. Crawford on the next play then threw an 11 yard pass to Stephen McMeechan for a touchdown. The conversion was no good and the Wildcats now needed the ball as they were 4 points short.

Unfortunately they  got the ball a little bit too quickly as their running back rushed for a 45 yard touchdown which effectively dashed the hopes of the Scottish champions. The Wildcats were able to score another touchdown when McMeechan took hold of the ball and threw a 17 yard pass to Euan Crawford. The conversion was incomplete and it was the final play of the game. The final score being 24-20 to the tournament hosts.

Passing Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt Attempts Completions COMP% INT TD QB Rating
Euan Crawford 84 4.94 17 9 52.9 0 2 67.14
Stephen McMeechan 40 20 2 2 100 0 1 170.41

Rushing Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt TD
Stephen McMeechan 69 8.625 0
Alasdair Howie 7 2.333 0
Kyle Holleyoake 42 6 0

Recieving Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt TD
Euan Trommino 30 10 1
Colin Hamilton 20 10 0
Stig McArthur 30 15 0
Stephen McMeechan 26 13 1
Ally Gibson 1 1 0
Euan Crawford 17 17 1

Defensive Statistics

ST AT SACKS INT BATT FC FR TD SAF
Stephen McMeechan 4 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Corin Robinson 1 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 1
Euan Trommino 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Alasdair Howie 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
Stig McArthur 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Game 3:

Highland Wildcats 1-0 Aberdeen Roughnecks

The Roughnecks had to pull out of the their final game against the Wildcats due to injuries but both teams had a scrimmage game with Wildcats filling in for the fallen Roughnecks. It was great experience for both the Roughnecks and the Wildcats as it gave players who didn’t get a lot of game time much needed experience; especially for 2nd string QB’s James Maclean and Connol Kelly who both threw multiple touchdown passes.

Wildcats 46 – 6 Buccaneers

Article by Tom Green…

Box Score

  1ST HALF 2ND HALF FINAL SCORE
HIGHLAND WILDCATS 28 18 46
HAMILTON BUCCANEERS 6 0 6

 Highland Wildcats VS East Kilbride Pirates (4)

Scoring Summary

1ST HALF

0-6 – TD – HAMILTON BUCCANEERS (45 Yard Rush)

6-6 – TD – Euan Crawford to Colin Hamilton (3 Yard Pass)

12-6 – TD – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (1 Yard Pass)

14-6 – XP – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (12 Yard Pass)

16-6 – SAF – Stephen McMeechan (Safety)

22-6 – TD – Euan Milton (8 Yard Rush)

28-6 – TD – Mark Pyper (38 Yard Rush)

2ND HALF

34-6 – TD – Mark Pyper (5 Yard Rush)

40-6 – TD – Euan Crawford to Lewis Hilditch (17 Yard Pass)

46-6 – TD – Euan Crawford to Lewis Hilditch (30 Yard Pass)

 

The undefeated youth Highland Wildcats went into the opening game of the Granite City tournament after an impressive run of 21 victories since their defeat to the Burnley Tornadoes in 2013. They were looking to continue this run in Aberdeen to secure them post season football.

Unfortunately the game started off in the worst possible fashion with a 45 yard rushing touchdown by the Buccaneers running back. This put the Wildcats behind for the first time in a game since the UK Championship game against the Kent Exiles. Fortunately for the Wildcats the conversion attempt was unsuccessful leaving the score at 6-0 to the Glaswegian side.

The reigning UK champions responded almost immediately with a touchdown of their own when Euan Crawford threw a 3 yard pass to centre Colin Hamilton. Following this touchdown the ‘Cats scored again from another passing play. This time the receiver was Mark Pyper from 1 yard out. Crawford then threw a 12 yard pass to Pyper to convert the score which increased the Wildcats lead to 8 points.

Nose tackle Stephen McMeechan then added his name to the score sheet by scoring a safety. After this the Wildcats running game was fully utilised and the Highlanders scored two rushing touchdowns before the end of the half. The first was scored by Euan Milton (who rushed in from 8 yards) and the second was scored by Mark Pyper who rushed 34 yards to score his touchdown. None of these touchdowns were converted which left the score at half time 28-6 to the Highland Wildcats.

After half time the Wildcats scored three more touchdowns before the full time whistle to leave the score at 46-6 to the current UK champions. The first of these was scored by Pyper who rushed in for a 5 yard touchdown. The last two were scored by Euan Crawford who threw two touchdown passes to Lewis Hilditch. The first was a 17 yard pass and the last one was a 30 yard pass. Unfortunately these were uncoverted but it left the final score at 46-6.

Development Squad Win

Last Sunday whilst the Junior Wildcats were playing a tight game against the Lanarkshire Longhorns at Beltane Park, the youth development squad met up with the East Kilbride Pirates. This time a game and scrimmage took place with the Wildcats development squad enjoying another taste of competition.

A 12 man team, mostly made up of rookie players, took to the field to take on the Pirates. On this occassion the Wildcat development squad all contributed to a good 42-6 win against players from the Pirates.

After the game the Wildcats played defense so that the Pirates offense could get more game time.

Wildcats Development Coach, Martin Macpherson, was pleased with the days events. “The game was a great opportunity for the development guys to continue their progress going against a good opponent. This time we had the chance for some of our players to try different positions as well as more game experience. It is tough to break into our main youth squad and stay there, and the effort all of my squad keep putting in will help them get there. I would like to thank the East Kilbride Pirates for giving us the opportunity for giving our development guys more game experience.”

Head Coach of the Highland Wildcats, Robbie Paulin, added, “I’m really pleased that some of my newer players are getting a chance for more game time. We’ve worked closely with the East Kilbride Pirates this season to get these extra events set up and I think both squads have benefited. We’ve now got another event on 4 July that will see a team from TouchdownUK based in Edinburgh coming up to Inverness to play some games against our development players. We’re grateful to BAFA for giving us the go ahead for this event and hope that it’s the first of many!”

MID-SEASON REVIEW

Article by Tom Green…

JUNIOR WILDCATS (3-0)

Pirates Game 1 Chris Shaw

The Junior Highland Wildcats have had a perfect start to the season with three away victories which means they are well on their way to hitting their goal of winning the U19 Scottish Championship. With only three games left to go the Wildcats have the potential of achieving the first perfect season at U19 level in the club’s history and look set to contest the championship game later in 2015.

They still have three games left in the regular season which consist of home games against last years 3rd placed Edinburgh Wolves, East Kilbride Pirates and the dangerous Clackmannanshire Ravens.

The Highlanders however are not complacent as they know that all three of their last games will be a challenge as there is no such thing as a easy win in this sport.

Head Coach, Robbie Paulin, commented, “Last year’s opening play couldn’t have gone worse for us; a kick-off returned for a touchdown by the Longhorns. The rest of the season was successful but this year is turning out to be even better. The very first play was far better, for a start! Declan Maclennan returned a kickoff for a touchdown within the first 10 seconds of the game. From there the team has continued progress. It’s fantastic to see so many of our youth players now stepping up in the junior squad and becoming key players already. This is also true of our cross-over players that are currently playing in both age groups. We’ve also got some U19 players who are in their final season with us and they are stepping their performance up in 2015 as well! I’d like to thank all of my coaches and coordinators and the staff for all of the work they have put in so far this year.”

Junior Results

@ East Kilbride Pirates 52-0 W

@ Clackmannanshire Ravens 36-22 W

@ Lanarkshire Longhorns 26-20 W

P W L T PF PA
HIGHLAND WILDCATS 3 3 0 0 114 42
LANARKSHIRE LONGHORNS 3 2 1 0 76 40
EDINBURGH WOLVES 2 1 1 0 46 56
CLACKMANNANSHIRE RAVENS 3 1 2 0 60 84
EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 3 0 3 0 48 122

Fantasy Ratings
Top 5 Players (Combined)
Erem Demirel 65
Chris Shaw 58
Mark Pyper 56
Seumas Ross 54
Euan Crawford 36

YOUTH WILDCATS (6-0)

Highland Wildcats VS East Kilbride Pirates (4)

The Youth Wildcats have won all 6 of their opening games this season and are edging closer to returning to the UK championships later this season to defend their national crown.

With only two tournaments remaining for the Wildcats they look in a strong position to win an unprecedented 6th Scottish title and could potentially be the first team since the Clyde Valley Falcons to win 2 consecutive Britbowl titles.

The next two times the Wildcats will be in action is at the Aberdeen Tournament and the Hamilton Tournament before Britbowl (if the team qualifies of course).

Coach Paulin spoke about his U17 squad: “Physically we have (as with most years) a reasonably small squad. In fact, I’ve nicknamed our defense “the short-arse” defense … that’s politically correct to say that, yeah? But this has in no way held the team back. Their hard work, technique, conditioning and effort have allowed them to still dominate the Scottish conference. Our rookies are doing brilliantly and are making an impact in most of our games. It’s also been great to see our development players perform well and progress in the scrimmages that we’ve set up with the East Kilbride Pirates throughout the year. Things are looking good for us for the Scottish Championship and (with that all going well) we are aiming to defend our UK title too but Britbowl is always a massive step up and we know we’ve got a lot of work to do to prepare.”

Youth Results

Edinburgh Tournament

vs Hamilton Buccaneers 66-13 W

vs East Kilbride Pirates 54-12 W

vs Edinburgh Wolves 46-12 W

Highland Tournament

vs East Kilbride Pirates 18-0 W

vs Aberdeen Roughnecks 20-0 W

vs Edinburgh Wolves 76-6 W

P W L T PF PA
HIGHLAND WILDCATS 6 6 0 0 280 43
EAST KILBRIDE PIRATES 6 4 2 0 85 84
HAMILTON BUCCANEERS 3 1 2 0 32 100
EDINBURGH WOLVES 6 1 5 0 78 198
ABERDEEN ROUGHNECKS 3 0 3 0 12 62

 

Fantasy Ratings

Top 5 Offensive Players
Mark Pyper 70.6
Kyle Holleyoake 55
Euan Crawford 32
Euan Trommino 20.9
Stephen McMeechan 20

Top 5 Defensive Players
Stephen McMeechan 13.6
Corin Robinson 10.6
Alex Macpherson 9
Lewis Taylor 9
Mark Pyper 8.3

Wildcats 76 – 6 Wolves

Article by Tom Green…

Highland Wildcats VS Edinburgh Wolves (3)

1st Half 2nd Half Final Score
Highland Wildcats 52 24 76
Edinburgh Wolves 6 0 6

 

Score Summary

1st Half

6-0 – Mark Pyper (HIG) 13 Yard Rush

12-0 – Stephen McMeechan (HIG) Defensive TD

14-0 – Euan Crawford to Mark Pyper (HIG) 2 Extra Points

20-0 – Euan Crawford to Euan Trommino (HIG) 4 Yard Passing TD

22-0 – Mark Pyper (HIG) Safety

28-0 – Euan Crawford to Lewis Hilditch (HIG) 18 Yard Passing TD

34-0 – Mark Pyper (HIG) 45 Yard Rushing TD

34-6 – EDINBURGH WOLVES TD

40-6 – Kyle Holleyoake (HIG) 45 Yard Rushing TD

42-6 – Mark Pyper (HIG) 2 Extra Points

44-6 – Lewis Taylor (HIG) Safety

50-6 – Stephen McMeechan (HIG) 22 Yard Rushing TD

52-6 – Euan Crawford to Stephen McMeechan (HIG) 2 Extra Points

 

2nd Half

58-6 – Stephen McMeechan (HIG) Defensive TD

64-6 – Alex Roberts (HIG) 45 Yard Rushing TD

66-6 – Euan Crawford to Ally Gibson (HIG) 2 Extra Points

68-6 – Mark Pyper (HIG) Safety

74-6 – Mark Pyper to Euan Trommino (HIG) 45 Yard Passing TD

76-6 – Mark Pyper to Euan Milton (HIG) 2 Extra Points

The Wildcats went to 6-0 in the Scottish youth division and a step closer to returning to defend their UK championship.

The Wildcats started of the game strongly with the opening drive of the game resulting in a 13 Yard rushing touchdown scored by Mark Pyper.

Stephen McMeechan then piled on the pressure in the following drive and scored a defensive touchdown. This was then converted by Euan Crawford when he found Mark Pyper to score two extra points.

The Highlanders then scored three unanswered touchdowns and a safety to put the score up to 34-0. Two of these were scored by Euan Crawford who found Euan Trommino for 4 yards and Lewis Hilditch for 18 yards.

Edinburgh then replied with a touchdown of their own but this turned out to be their only score of the game.

The Wildcats then scored two more touchdowns (both of them were converted) and a safety before the end of the first half. The touchdowns were scored by Kyle Holleyoake who rushed in for a 45 yard touchdown and Stephen McMeechan who rushed in for 22 yards. They were converted by Mark Pyper (12 Yard rush) and Crawford (12 Yard pass to McMeechan). Lewis Taylor scored the safety and left the score at half time at 52-6.

In the second half the Wildcats continued to dominate the game and scored 3 more touchdowns (two of them were converted and a safety. The first was scored by Mcmeechan on defense after he piled on more pressure. Following the Mcmeechan touchdown, Pyper scored the second safety of the game and put the hosts in an even more dominating position. Rookie, Alex Roberts, then scored a 45 yard rushing touchdown. This was converted by centre, Ally Gibson, who was on the end of a Crawford 12 yard pass. The last of the touchdowns was scored by Mark Pyper who threw the ball to Euan Trommino to score a 45 yard passing touchdown. This was then converted by Pyper again when he threw in a pass to Euan Milton to leave the score at 76-6.

 

Passing Statistics

Yards Completions Attempts Comp % TD QB Rating
Euan Crawford 59 5 7 71.4 2 98.6
Mark Pyper 69 3 3 100 1 184.6

 

Rushing Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt TD
Mark Pyper 83 13.833 3
Callum Mccadden 52 26 0
Kyle Holleyoake 73 18.25 1
Euan Crawford 1 1 0
Stephen McMeechan 22 22 1
Alex Roberts 52 26 1

 

Receiving Statistics

Yards Yards/Attempt TD
Mark Pyper 25 12.5 1
Euan Trommino 49 24.5 2
Lewis Hilditch 18 18 1
Stephen McMeechan 12 12 1
Ally Gibson 12 12 1
Euan Milton 12 12 1

 

Defensive Statistics

ST AT SACKS INT BATT FC FR TD SAFETIES
Corin Robinson 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Stephen McMeechan 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 2 0
Mark Pyper 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
Euan Trommino 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Lewis Taylor 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1
David Robertson 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Alasdair Howie 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Fergus Macrae 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Stig McArthur 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
Mikey Stewart 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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