CORNELIUS — Hough High’s football team put together a number of “firsts” and “bests” during the 2012 season.
Now, heading toward the 2013 season, the Huskies can claim another first after winning the inaugural Cam Newton Foundation 7-on-7 tournament Saturday.
Hough won its first-ever 7-on-7 title – where passing offenses and defenses are tested – on its home field by overcoming a winner’s bracket loss to Forestview with three straight wins, including two over the Jaguars by scores of 28-16 and 19-18 in the tournament’s championship round.
“We struggled a little bit (Friday), too,” Huskies quarterback Josh Stilley said. “But we knew how hard we’ve worked so far this summer, and that we came here to win this championship.
“We got it done in the end. Being in the loser’s bracket, we knew we still had a chance. We just didn’t give up.”
Hough – which finished 9-3 and qualified for the state 4A playoffs for the first time in 2012 – advanced for its first shot at the tournament title by beating the Huskies’ JV squad, Vance and Fort Mill’s Nation Ford in the first three rounds in the winner’s bracket.
However, Hough’s run hit a speed bump in the winner’s bracket final – a 34-22 loss to Forestview that knocked the Huskies into the loser’s bracket and gave the Jaguars a nice, long wait until the double-elimination tournament’s championship game.
But the loss may have worked in Hough’s favor.
The sixth-seeded Huskies went right from their loss to Forestview into a loser’s bracket final matchup against county rival North Mecklenburg, which had battled to a 29-21 double-overtime win over Hickory.
Hough won easily 25-6, setting up a rematch against the fourth-seeded Jaguars … and the necessity to win twice to take the tournament title.
“Sometimes the break between the games is the toughest thing to deal with,” Huskies coach Bobby Collins said. “Keeping the guys going and keeping their legs fresh was the biggest thing.
“We condition the guys pretty tough every morning at weight training; after that, it’s a matter of executing and doing the fundamentals.”
And Hough executed, on both sides of the ball.
Stilley went 21 of 27 for 267 yards and five touchdowns – three going to Mykelti Armstrong – in the two wins over Forestview, while the Huskies’ defense came up with a pair of stops on downs and interceptions from Mark Fields Jr. and Marquill Osborne that put Hough ahead to stay in both games.
“Coach Collins got us together and told us we had made it too far to quit,” said Fields, named the tournament’s top defensive player. “That’s really what got us right. We competed like champions, and that’s what we wound up as.”