By DUDLEY E. DAWSON

In his first season at the helm of his alma mater, Newport head football coach Brian Reardon is loving what he is seeing from the tradition-rich Greyhounds.

Newport (9-3) has won seven of its last eight games as it heads to Charleston (11-1) for Friday night’s Class 3A quarterfinal round game.

“I feel very blessed to be back coaching here at Newport and we have some great kids who are really playing well right now,” Reardon said. “We have a big challenge ahead of us in Charleston, but I am confident new are going to go give our best effort and see if we can’t keep this success going.”

Reardon, who finished yup his Greyhound career in 1993, returned to Newport after coaching 12 years at Southside with the first 10 years as the defensive coordinator and he last two as head coach.

“We came in here as a first-year staff, but walked into a great senior class who had to change sone of their ways, some of their  habits and I had to change some of my coaching style as well, Reardon said. “We had to mesh some of our ways with me coming from Southside to Newport.

“We sputtered a couple of halves here and there, but we have come together, are on the same page and playing our best football at the right time.”

Newport is as healthy as its has been in while with quarterback Dejai Marshall (5-11, 175) flourishing in offense that features tailback CJ Young (5-9, 175) and a pair of talented senior wideouts in Kylan Crite (6-1, 175) and Jackson State commit Isiah  Kendall (6-5, 180).

Young has rushed for 1,737 yards and 22 touchdowns this season while Criteis 1,000 receiving yards for the season and Kendall is approaching 2,000 career yards.

“We’re balanced,” Reardon said. “We were run heavy earlier in the year when our quarterback was injured and we had to running quarterback in and we just mashed everybody and were running for 240 yards a game.

“Now we have him (Marshall) back and two D-I receivers and people were still loading the box even when we are throwing four or five touchdowns a game.  I don’t think Charleston will do that, but we’ll see.”

“We are clicking when we need to be clicking on offense,  our defense is only giving  up about two touchdowns a game and our special teams are making some big plays,” Reardon said. “But the tough thing now is there are no easy games at this point.”

Charleston’s only loss was a 27-19 to Nashville in the third week of the season and the Tigers have outscored opponents 505-115 and won their last nine outings.

“They are very well-balanced and have a kicker that puts it into the end zone about 80 percent of the time so that helps their defense,” Reardon said. “They play clean, disciplined football, fly around and play physical, don’t give up a lot of points and score about 40 points a game.”

Charleston has won its last three games by a combined scores of 132-6.

“We are going to Charleston, got our work cut out for us and are going to have to play a clean game. We certainly feel like we have a pretty good chance, but it going to take a great effort.”