As Forestview High quarterbacks warmed up their wide receivers before a 7-on-7 matchup on Thursday afternoon, 6-foot-5 Cam Newton cut in line to run a route. With a tender ankle, Newton jogged 15 yards and cut inside – where he pulled in a ball that was a few feet over his head.
Forestview’s receivers were not impressed.
“That’s not the route, man,” one shouted from the back of the line. “It’s 12 yards, not 15.”
“My bad,” Newton said as he ran back to the front of the line to run the route again – this time correctly.
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Newton, the host of his foundation’s second annual 7-on-7 tournament at Hough High School, spent Thursday and Friday interacting with athletes from 24 area high schools.
The tournament, which showcased powerhouses like Butler, Rock Hill South Pointe, Spartanburg Dorman and Shelby, was a way for the Newton family to give back to the community. Newton’s brother – a former Baltimore Raven – helped set up catering stations and his father, Cecil Newton, emceed the event from midfield.
“It’s important to our family,” Cecil Newton said. “Our mission is to give back to the community.
Myers Park, which has had three head coaches in three years, earned a top 10 seed behind the play of quarterback Clay Norris and wide receiver T.D. McNeil. First-year coach Scott Chadwick likes what he sees of his senior quarterback.
“I think he is definitely something we can build around,” Chadwick said. “I expect that he will have a very big year for us.”
Butler finished pool play with an undefeated record and the top seed entering the playoffs, but fell to Newton-Conover in the second round. Bulldogs coach Brian Hales knows 7-on-7s are just a tool to prepare for the regular season.
“We have four main goals in our program,” Hales said. “Winning 7-on-7s doesn’t appear anywhere on the list.”
Cam Newton compared the growth in 7-on-7 tournaments to the rise of travel basketball teams. The benefit, he says, is that these competitions can be held more frequently.
“With football being such a physical sport, this gives kids an opportunity to play more months out of the year,” he said Thursday. “When you look a soccer and baseball, those kids can play year-round.”
Spartanburg Dorman, which nearly won the Panthers’ 7-on-7 tournament a week ago, was 5-1 entering Friday’s playoff round. David Gutshall, who has run the program since 1993, enjoys the competition with unfamiliar schools.
“It’s good because we see teams we don’t see very often,” Gutshall said. “Up here we don’t have any teams we play in the regular season. I think it’s good for our kids.”
The Cavaliers advanced to the championship on Friday behind rising junior quarterback Collin Hill and standout wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. They beat South Mecklenburg and the Sabres’ star safety Steve Griffin, a Tennessee commit.
Dorman will take home a check for $2500 for winning the tournament. South Mecklenburg will pocket $1500 and third-place finisher Kings Mountain will accept $1000. All of the money will be allocated for new football equipment.