It was a neat moment in the short history of Nation Ford football when Riley Hilton and Dalton Helms earned awards at the Cam Newton 7-on-7 football tournament last summer at Hough High in Cornelius, N.C. Hilton, who will play football this fall at Presbyterian, was named the tournament’s top offensive player, and Helms, who will play quarterback at Campbell, was named the top QB.
Their standout performances eventually led to Nation Ford’s hosting Cam Newton’s 7-on-7 National Championship on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s a great event to come to our community,” Nation Ford football coach Michael Allen said. “It’s great football, great experience for the young people and it gives people around our area an opportunity to come watch and enjoy.”
Hilton and Helms’ success allowed Allen to strike up a relationship with Kim Beal, the director of the Cam Newton Foundation, which organizes Newton’s 7-on-7 tournaments, and Cecil Newton, Cam’s father.
“It just kind of progressed with us talking over a couple of months,” Allen said.
Cecil Newton invited Allen and the players to watch the Carolina Panthers’ home playoff game againstSan Francisco in January, where the idea of hosting a Cam Newton 7-on-7 championship at Nation Ford was discussed.
The next day, Beal and Cecil Newton visited Nation Ford and hashed out a deal to host the inaugural Cam Newton 7-on-7 National Championship.
The event will cover two days. Pool play is Friday; the double-elimination round is Saturday. Play will begin between 9:30 and 10 a.m. both days. Admission is $3, with all proceeds going to the Cam Newton Foundation.
Championship teams from Cam Newton 7-on-7s in Alabama and Georgia will join local schools in the 12-team field. South Pointe and Northwestern will compete as wild cards, along with the host Falcons. Dorman, which won Newton’s 7-on-7 at Hough earlier this month, will compete, as will South Mecklenburg, the team Dorman beat at the Panthers’ practice field. Hough also is competing.
Four teams from Georgia will compete – Creekside, Mays, North Murray and Grady. Creekside is the defending Georgia 5A state champion and features Division I receiver recruit Jayson Stanley, who has offers from 24 schools, according to 247Sports. Newton’s younger brother, Caylin, will quarterback Grady’s team.
Ramsey and A.H. Parker, from Alabama, round out the tournament field.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T