Building a Camp Tradition

Further establishing its presence amidst the high school ranks, North Carolina debuted a passing league this past summer. Dubbed the "Beast of the Hill 7-on-7 Elite Camp," Butch Davis says the event was a "huge success."

"I tell you, we did something that I really hope continues to grow, because I would love to think that at North Carolina we have the best 7-on-7 camp on the entire East Coast," Davis said.

The 7-on-7 passing league, which supplanted UNC's team camp in its summer camping schedule, included 18 schools from Washington, D.C., North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Washington (D.C.) Ballou and Monroe (N.C.) Sun Valley took home the winner's trophies.

"It gave our passing offense a chance to show what it can do," UNC pledge and Sun Valley receiver Ray Ray Davis said. "It's not the same as winning a state championship, but it's a nice accomplishment."

The 18 participating teams were split into three "pods." Each team played a round robin tournament with the members of their pod. Based on their round robin records, the teams were seeded into two different tournaments.

"I would say UNC's [7-on-7 league] compared favorably to the other three we attended," said Jason Luck, offensive coordinator for Durham (N.C.) Jordan, which competed in the event. "The overall athletes that were on the teams at UNC's camp where of higher caliber."

Not only does UNC plan to continue to hold the 7-on-7 passing league for years to come, the staff is dedicated to improving the event and hopes its popularity grows to crowd-attracting heights.

"We're starting to find out what really fits the high school coaches," Butch Davis said. "... We'd like to do it maybe like on a Friday and play the championship games under the lights and have people from Chapel Hill come out and watch .We'd like to start getting fans in the stands to watch these high school kids."

2008 Offensive MVP: Ray Ray Davis
As the excitement grows, UNC hopes its "Beast of the Hill" will become a can't miss event for high schools and recruits.

The 7-on-7 concept was created for instructional purposes. It provides high school coaches the opportunity to fine tune their passing attack and the coverage abilities of their defensive back seven.

Over the course of the last several years, 7-on-7s have evolved to include a strong competitive element. The passing leagues and tournaments began to surface, attracting statewide, regional, and even national participants.

"Any time you go to these events, you want to be able to teach your kids while you're there, but at the same time you also want to challenge them," Luck said. "… I can remember going to other schools during the summer for a much more teaching prospective. I think what you see now there's still that teaching element, but a lot of the teaching will happen on the fly and it's more about going there and actually performing."

Players have found it easier to play with intensity when something is on the line.

"It's better going against and competing against teams," Ray Ray Davis said. "Our team is very competitive. We don't like to lose, even if it is a 7-on-7."

Furthermore, the league and tournament atmosphere relieves players from the monotonous routines of summer preparation.

"Sometimes as coaches we may forget – because we're so serious about things – the best thing about playing football is having fun," Luck said. "And for all of our kids – and any kids out there playing football – going to these 7-on-7s and having the opportunity to go against a high level of competition is fun -- it's a fun element."

Luck plans to increase the amount of 7-on-7 passing events on Jordan's schedule next summer.

"Our perspective is not to do less of these, but to do more of these on down the road," Luck said. "I can see us going back to the UNC 7-on-7 camp and I think we'll probably do one or two other ones in addition to what we've done in the past."

Related Links:
* Photo Gallery: UNC 7-on-7 Camp

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