Amercian football teams merge for new HACL season
A Ross-shire American football team has joined forces with two Inverness schools to play in this season’s Highland Academies Community League (HACL).
The Black Isle Stags, made up of Fortrose Academy and Dingwall Academy pupils, had won the HACL three years running.
But with a higher turnover of players this time round leaving an inexperienced side behind, youth development officer Robbie Paulin merged the Stags with Culloden and Millburn to form the Eagles ahead of the start of the season tomorrow.
“A lot of them have all moved up, which is nice to see,” he said.
“They’re all continuing into junior, playing in the under-19s, but it leaves a bit of a void.
“There’s one player left there from last year, and it has been a struggle trying to get things going there.
“Rather than pushing six or seven players out there themselves I think it’s worth bringing them together with another group.
“They’re going to have to do that with the Wildcats anyway, so I think it’s good to join them up sometimes.
“As long as we’re getting good, competitive games, that’s the main thing. It’s nice if we can keep a school together, but as long as we’re getting games that’s the whole idea.”
In age group sport, there is always the risk that a successful generation will not be followed up with a similar level of interest.
The Stags have been relatively immune to that effect in recent years, contributing to their success, but now they are experiencing what Paulin says is just part of the cycle.
“It’s that sort of thing, we tend to find things go in waves,” Paulin said.
“Culloden got to the final in the first year, and then in the next they really struggled.
“Generally you’ll have a really young team one year, then they’re in the middle, then they’re at the top and then they’re out.
“It goes with that friend group, they tend to stick together. That’s what has happened in the Stags.
“To be fair, they’ve had a good follow through in the last few years, and they’ve only dropped off a little bit now.”