After losing to Harding Academy in the second round of the playoffs last season, the Newport High School Greyhounds are working to refocus and rebuild momentum in the 2020 football season.
Newport, which was in the 3A-3 Conference in 2019 and will move to the 3A-2 Conference for 2020, finished the regular season with a 9-3 record, with losses to Lonoke and eventual state-championship runner-up Osceola. Newport head coach Mark Hindsley said teams such as Harding and Osceola simply overpowered the Greyhounds. He said the team has focused on strength training in the offseason.
Stepping in to lead the team will be junior Eli Alcorn (5-10, 170), who threw for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns while also putting up 992 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last season. Sophomore Dejai Marshall (5-10, 155) steps up from the junior high team, which he led to an undefeated season.
Hindsley said one of the Greyhounds’ key returning players will be senior running back Tharon Davis (5-9, 160). Davis averaged 12.5 yards per carry last season and led the team in rushing touchdowns with 19. He also got 8 receiving touchdowns and returned a punt for a 71-yard touchdown against Lonoke.
Slot receiver Chris Reynolds (6-6, 180) caught 23 passes last year with 3 touchdowns. The senior was all-conference in 2019 and uses his height as an advantage on the field. Sophomores C.J. Young (5-9, 165), Jaden Godair (5-8, 150) and Isiah Kendall (6-5, 170) will also handle some receiving duties.
In the halfback position, Jadarius Reed (5-10, 180) put up 800 yards last season and scored 11 times.
On the offensive line, senior Jagger Robinson (5-10, 225) returns and will take up the left guard spot. Senior Weston Henderson (6-0, 265) will be at right tackle. The line will be rounded out by junior Evan Solis (6-2, 250) at left tackle and sophomore right tackle Aabel Robinson (6-0, 230).
On defense, Hindsley said, the team will run a Multiple formation. Senior Tyler Johnson (5-10, 200) had 48 tackles last fall, while senior Colin Hill (6-3, 170) has plenty of reach to defend against passes. Hill also served as the team’s punter. Jakeyvin Davis (6-1, 210) had 51 tackles and 4 sacks as a sophomore. Hindsley said he is moving Davis, who had a team high of 5 interceptions last year, to the secondary this season.
Hindsley said the team’s secondary will be a strength in 2020, along with the team’s excellent receivers. With a lot of young blood on the team, Hindsley said, youth and inexperience could be a hindrance.
As for expectations, the coach said the Greyhounds should have a strong showing in the regular season with a deep run into the playoffs. He said key games are Lonoke in Week 3 and Harding Academy in Week 9, due to losses to those teams last season.