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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Blockbuster State Quarterfinal Set for Friday; Newport Travels to Charleston

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A berth in the Class 3A state football semifinals will be on the line Friday when the Charleston Tigers welcome the Newport Greyhounds to Alumni Field the day after Thanksgiving. Friday’s quarterfinal game will feature an awesome display of talent that will be on the field from both schools. The Charleston defense that has given up a total of just six points so far in state playoffs will be tested by a very good Newport offense that features a talented 6’5″ wide receiver that is a four-star recruit and has committed to play for Deion Sanders at Jackson State. Greyhounds receiver Isiah Kendall is ranked as the 37th best receiver nationally and the second-ranked receiver in Arkansas. In high school track, Kendall has recorded a 11.08 hundred meter dash time that he ran as a sophomore.

The Charleston Tigers will be playing at home for the third straight week in the playoffs this Friday. If the Tigers survive the quarterfinals match with Newport, they will travel for the semifinals to either Prescott or Rison. Rison will host the Prescott Curley Wolves on Friday and will face the winner of the Charleston vs Newport quarterfinal in the semifinals that will be held on December 2.

The final eight teams in Class 3A that are still alive in the state playoffs are all capable of winning the state championship. To win it all, from Charleston’s perspective, the Tigers will like have to defeat Newport, Prescott, and Booneville…three very tough football games to win a state title. So, every game from here out is tough, and it will require an all-out effort from every team, as well as staying healthy, to be the 2022 state champion.

The Greyhounds are members of the 3A-2 conference. In 2021, Newport was 6-5 and finished third in the conference. In the playoffs, Newport defeated Lincoln and Paris before losing at Prescott.

In 2022, Newport’s record was 7-3 in the regular season. So far in the 2022 3A playoffs, the Greyhounds have defeated Magnet Cove by the score of 50-14 and Quitman by the score of 53-22.

The regular season results for Newport are:

at Osceola 34-28 (W)

vs Beebe 26-28 (L)

at Stuttgart 28-38 (L)

vs Trumann 28-16 (W)

vs Quitman 44-26 (W)

@ Salem 44-28 (W)

@Atkins 52-6 (W)

@Melbourne 20-29 (L)

vs Yellville-Summit 61-15 (W)

vs Perryville 36-12 (W)

As talented as the Greyhounds are on offense, the defense has given up significant points throughout the season. The quarterfinals match between the Tigers and the Greyhounds will match the Charleston offense with the Newport defense, with Charleston perhaps having the advantage. Defensively for Charleston, the great Tigers defense will be challenged by a talented rushing and passing attack from Newport. The combination of these two match-ups, I believe, gives Charleston the slight overall advantage going into Friday’s game. But, as we all have seen on multiple occasions, the turnover ratio, the number of times a team turnover the football and loses possession, will be huge in this game. Newport is too good to give them extra chances on offense by turning the ball over, and, vice versa. Newport cannot give the Charleston offensive weapons, led by Brandon Scott, any additional opportunities to score. Field position will be critical; neither team will want to give the other a short field to score easily. In last week’s second round game with Centrpoint, the Knights fumbled on their opening possession and gave Charleston the ball inside their own territory. The Tigers scored quickly, and Centerpoint was never in the game for the rest of the night. Both teams will have to avoid this tomorrow night.

When I asked Charleston head coach Ricky May to comment on the Greyhounds and Friday’s match-up, the Tigers’ coach said, “Newport is a team full of athletes! It starts with their running back who is hard to tackle. They have a 6’5″ receiver who has committed to Jackson State, then, they have their leading receiver who can make a short pass into a touchdown. Their lines are solid on both sides of the football and their defense flies around. It should be a really good game.”

Football teams love playing football after Thanksgiving Day. To still be playing this time of year is exciting and players from all remaining teams dream of winning a state title. The Tigers need their fans to show up and pack the entire stadium on Friday to support the dreams of their players who will be giving it their all on the carpet of Alumni Field.

It should be a classic, and it is the honor and pleasure of RNN Sports to be there to cover this exciting game! I look forward to seeing you again in the final game at Alumni Field this season. RNN Sports will have a recap of this game on Saturday morning on our website at residentnewsnetwork.com. Photos from the game will be posted on Facebook at Charleston Tigers Sports on Monday.

It’s playoff football time! See you there!

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Jim Best
Jim Best is a man of many talents. His storied career in Arkansas education led him to a new passion, and hidden gifts in sports journalism.
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