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Who I Am, and Why You Should Pay No Attention :)

Jan 02 2007

I can honestly say I have never pictured myself as a blogger. When I started writing about high school football in 1982, it was on a portable typewriter. By 1984, I had migrated to a job as a sportswriter and a huge CRT screen that magically took our text and turned it into copy for manual layout of the Sports section. To say the idea of the Internet and blogs was beyond our imagination would be, well beyond our imagination.

I go by the moniker of Sunset Beach, one of my favorite places and haunts - although I spend most of my time in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, where I live. As you can probably tell, I grew up in Concord and graduated from CHS in 1978. Aftre doing the collegiate equivalent of Cain from Kung Fu for a few years, from 1982-1999, I covered high school football in North Carolina in one fashion or another. In the early days it was that typewritten newsletter, "Best of the West," published (if you can call it that) from Boone. From 1983-1985, I worked as a sports journalist at a daily newspaper - in the beginning as a stringer for larger papers, then on the staff of a small daily. I covered a variety of sports, NASCAR, had a weekly Wednesday column...but the main attention was high school football. Long hours, poor pay - but looking back now, a lot of fun. By late 1985 I had moved on to another line of work, the reason I had gone to college, but I kept my feet wet by staying up to speed with what was going on.

By 1986, I had decided that a statewide high school football newsletter might be a marketable product, and that I could produce one. I had been around the game my entire life, growing up on stories about great high school football around the state from my Dad, a high school football referee from 1957-1980. So I felt sure I could write knowledgeably about the game and the state.

And thus, "Prepscene" (later named "Tar Heel Prep") was born. The newsletter was marketed almost exclusively to coaches and officials - Dad's referee friends were a great market to start with, and over the years a number of coaches also became subscribers. My tagline was "From Waynesville to Wilmington," since my claim to fame was that I traveled the state every Friday night to see the best teams and games. I also created a power ratings system that proved by the end of the year to be pretty good at identifying the top teams. As always, there were some exceptions and surprises. I did some scouting,m produced scouting reports for my subscriber coaches at their request. I won't name names, but one coach won a few state titles while making full use of my scouting reports. Coincidence? :)

By the time the 1990's rolled around, Tar Heel Prep was doing pretty well in terms of interest. But it was always a labor of love, so I only charged my cost to send it out and thus it made no money (a poor decision on my part, perhaps). I became a regular on a lot of sports talk radio shows around the state, got to see the inner workings of high school sports like realignments, and for three seasons (1995-1997) produced a 4-minute segment on the previous night's high school games for the UNC football pregame show "Countdown to Kickoff."     

But with the success came challenges, and my professional life came more and more into conflict with time for the newsletter. E-mail and the advent of the web helped a bit, but by 1999 a job promotion left me little choice but to hang them up and leave high scool football behind.

For the next 4-5 years, I paid much less attention to high school football - attending only 3-4 games per year. But I discovered Carolina Varsity in 2004, enjoyed the dialogue with the knowledgeable fans on here, and decided to become a regular.

So now my great experiment for 2007, to see if can I take on more high school football again after several years away? Hence the name, Tar Heel Prep II. We'll see.

Well, that's my story - tell me about yours? What led to your love of high school football? For me, it was traveling to games as a kid with Dad, watching him call games, hanging out with the officials afterwards. Great memories and talk - it got into my blood.