Hillcrest’s football team traveled to Auburn University the first weekend in June for a 7-on-7 tournament and finished third out of 32 teams.
The next weekend at North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, the Rams finished fifth out of 20 teams.
Today they’ll begin play along with 19 other teams in the Palmetto State Showdown hosted by Byrnes at Beech Springs Intermediate School in Duncan.
“They have teams coming from all over the place, and then they have some of the best teams from South Carolina,” Hillcrest coach Greg Porter said. “It’s going to be an awesome opportunity for our kids.
“I don’t think they will get caught up in who we’ll be going up against, because we’ve been going up against a lot of good teams. I’m anxious to see what the experience from the whole month of June does for us and how they respond to the challenge.”
In 2013 Porter led Hillcrest to its finest season – a school-record 11 victories and the Region 1-AAAA championship, the Rams’ first region title in football.
“That year that we had last year really set the tone for this upcoming year,” Porter said. “We know that what happened last year was last year, and it’s up to this group right here to establish another year, but last year sure did help.”
The 20 teams from six states will compete in 10 round-robin games each beginning at 8 a.m. today, and then they’ll begin a single-elimination tournament at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, capped by a 5 p.m. championship game.
Byrnes has two teams in the field. Conway, Daniel, Lakewood, Myrtle Beach, Union County, Westside, Woodruff and Wren are the other in-state teams.
“The talent at these 7-on-7s has been incredible,” Porter said. “Exposing our kids to the level of competition that will mentally prepare them for our season and our region has been my main purpose.”
All of the scores in the tournament, sponsored by the National Guard and Powerade, will be available on Twitter @byrnes7on7 and on Facebook at Palmetto State Showdown July 11-12, 2014.