The Highland Stags have stamped their authority on American football in Britain, by going unbeaten in their first full season and clinching promotion to the first division.
They won their toughest game yet 18-8 in Invergordon at the weekend, defeating the only other unbeaten side, Scunthorpe Alphas after a half-time lead of 6-0.
The Stags will now face Bristol Apache in a season finale in London on September 4.
Speaking moments after the game, club captain Colin Hamilton said: “We were unbeaten, we won our division, we’ve just won our semi-final and we’re now going to London – this is phenomenal.
“We’ve already secured promotion into division one next season but we want to cap this off with a win in the final, hopefully.”
It was the first season with the Stags for Ben Senior, a long-time servant of the youth team, the Highland Wildcats.
Delighted with promotion, the club’s offensive coordinator said: “I was hugely impressed. The resolve of our players was the big thing today. It was an exceptionally difficult game, easily the most difficult we’ve had so far.
“The competition in Scotland has been terrific but numbers are always a problem, especially with such large distances that we have to travel and credit to the Scunthorpe Alphas for coming up today. It’s a long journey, they did a great job.
“Their team was strong. They’re well drilled but they couldn’t quite match us in the end. Highland spirit prevailed.”
The Stags’ affiliate team – and feeder group – the under 16’s Highland Wildcats, came second in the country a few weeks ago in the BAFA (British American Football Association) Britbowl finals.
While promotion to the first division is already secured for the Stags, their next challenge is a financial one.
Josh Crofts, the club’s head coach said: “We’re able to cover some of the boys’ subs but we’ve got a GoFundMe page as well. Any help would be much appreciated.”
Meanwhile a young player who started out with Edinburgh Napier Knights, the university’s American football team, has his sights set on the superbowl.
The Knights are celebrating the achievement of breakthrough quarterback Cameron Dunn – who is embarking on a scholarship to play the sport stateside.
The 20-year-old is one of several young players who are making moves towards playing the sport professionally.
Dunn, who took up the sport with the Knights youth teams in Sighthill, will formally begin his scholarship with St John Fisher University in New York state next month.
After arriving in the USA, he said: “The move over has gone well so far. We are just settling into the pre-season camp schedule now. With practices underway, every day is busy, but exciting.
“The Knights have really helped me prepare to compete at this level with the quarterback coaching I received last year.
“Being able to compete against Americans who have played all their life is really special.”
Edinburgh Napier Knights Head Coach and Club Chairman Pete Laird said: “Cameron started with us as a youth, ended up choosing to come to university, then broke all sorts of records with the team.
“He’s so dedicated, such an earnest kid, his parents have kept him on the steady level. He is a wonderful example to others at the club.”