LakePoint Sporting Community in Emerson hit the trifecta this weekend, hosting championship-level events in baseball, basketball and, for the first time, football, as the Cam Newton 7-on-7 Championships came to the football fields for the first time.
That meant several of the top teams from around the Southeast on the fields in Emerson, all of whom qualified through earlier regional events.
“We travel around the Southeast hosting 7-on-7 camps and so this is our championship,” said Kristen Black, a staff member at the Cam Newton Foundation. “This is our sixth year doing it, so we bring all the teams together, the winners from each state, and we bring them here and we host a championship weekend.”
The event is one of the crowning jewels near the end of the 7-on-7 summer season, as teams turn their focus towards preparing for their real seasons.
On a blazing summer day at LakePoint, Newton himself roamed the fields with a towel over his head.
Newton and his foundation started the tournaments six years ago, “just to kind of bring the community and the children together, and give them an opportunity to compete in a good environment in the summer,” Black said.
The pool play session on Friday saw each team play six games, and they’ll come back for the tournament today.
The teams in attendance came from Georgia, Florida, Alabama and both Carolinas.
The Georgia teams in attendance included defending Class 7A state champion Grayson, defending Class 1A-Private champion Eagle’s Landing, and Woodward Academy, which lost to Cartersville in the state quarterfinals.
“It’s just a great event, it gives us some opportunities to play some teams that we don’t play ... in our region, so it exposes us to other states, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina,” Nation Ford (South Carolina) head coach Michael Allen said.
Allen’s Nation Ford Falcons went 6-0 on Friday to set themselves up well for the bracket play, a fair reward for the nine-hour bus ride from Fort Mill, South Carolina.
“It’s been outstanding,” Nation Ford senior linebacker John Young said. “We weren’t really coming saying we were going to win anything. We just said come and have fun, but what happened is we went 6-0 today, so hopefully tomorrow we’re going to do the same.”
The 7-on-7 play at the tournament gave defensive players like Young a chance to recognize pass patterns and combinations in a low-impact game with no tackling.
Receivers, backs and quarterbacks get to sharpen their skills too. The best part about it is that it’s all in a competitive environment.
“It gives our group a chance to bond together, and it also gives us an opportunity to play different competition, other than who we play during the regular season,” Allen said.
Those characteristics have made 7-on-7 a growing summer pastime for high schools across the country, and Newton’s tournaments have been at the forefront in the Southeast—as has the man himself.
“Cam comes out here and he hangs out with the kids and his dad is here too,” Young said. “A lot of people come out here and it’s just good that he’s giving his time back to all of us who are coming out here to play.”