Tigers meet Cam Newton at 7-on-7 camp

Published 11:14 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Greenville High School Tigers got to learn firsthand from one of the state’s greatest tigers, former Auburn superstar and current Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, during a two-day 7-on-7 camp Friday and Saturday.

The Tigers played six games Friday during the tournament’s pool play, which set them up for double-elimination tournament play on Saturday.

Greenville head football coach Josh McLendon said the camp, in addition to Thursday’s ALFCA 7-on-7 championship, made for one of the most productive three-day stretches in recent memory.

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“We were 4-2 after Friday, and then went 2-2 on Saturday,” McLendon said. “We lost to Prattville, and we ended up finishing in 5th place.  If we’d beaten Prattville, we’d have gotten into the final four.  We just came up a little bit short against them, but overall I thought we had a great two days.  The kids had a great time, and got a lot of exposure.  They got to meet Cam Newton and have a picture with him, and they had a great time.”

The Tigers also battled some adverse conditions, including a wet and rainy Friday and a blisteringly hot Saturday.

Given the 10-day gauntlet that the Tigers endured in those two days—in addition to the 9 games played the Thursday before—last week was a true endurance test for the Greenville team.

“It was just one of those things were we played a lot of games, and it was good for our kids to get out there and see what kind of shape you’re in and how you hold up during those long days,” McLendon added. “It was a little rainy and wet on Friday.  And it was really, really hot on Saturday.  So it gave us a chance to see where we were at, and what we could do.  And I thought we performed well.”

Though physical fitness was a large part of Friday and Saturday’s proceedings, McLendon remarked on how the experience of being around Cam Newton provided intangible benefits for his team, as well.

Before Saturday’s tournament kicked off, Newton delivered a heartfelt message to all of the teams about being one’s best each day.

“I thought he had a good message for those guys that let them understand that you’ve got to work at anything you do, and nothing is going to be handed to you,” McLendon said.

“There will be times when you really don’t want to do things and you have to make sacrifices, whether it’s the people you hang around or going and doing things that you might not necessarily want to do.  If you want to be the best and get that scholarship, there are going to be some days when you have to make those sacrifices and do the things that not everyone is willing to do.”

Though he said it was a bit gratifying to have someone of Newton’s renown echo sentiments that he’s been preaching to players for years, he added that it was a bit different coming from him.

“And a lot of times, it means more coming from somebody like that than it does coming from somebody like me.  They can see it firsthand with him, and he can tell them that you’ve got to make sacrifices, whether it be his diet, his workouts or everything he does.”

The Tigers will hit the road once again next week, this time to Hoover for a national 7-on-7 tournament that will host teams from all over the Southeast on July 13-15.

“That’ll be another great experience for our guys in getting to see some different competition,” McLendon said. “I’m hoping that it’s another really good opportunity to go out and compete.”