Welcome to County Line Preps

6 months ago Andrew Luberda 0

Welcome to CountyLinePreps.com, your multimedia source for high school athletics in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley.

Thank you for visiting the site.

During the last four years I’ve witnessed some unforgettable athletic accomplishments while covering Combs, Poston Butte, Queen Creek and San Tan Foothills high schools as a sports writer/reporter. My content appeared in the weekly Southeast Valley Ledger, which later became the San Tan Valley Daily PRSS, a digital media outlet.

I was privileged to watch the Fauske Five and the Combs boys’ basketball team win 27-straight games – the longest winning streak in the state during the 2014-15 season – only to see it ended in the 2015 Division III State Championship Game.

Getting away from the Coyotes here. A missed FT, a missed layup, and a foul to put Snowflake at FT line. Lobos lead, 53-49. 1:08 left

— Andrew Luberda (@NVR2L8_ASU) March 1, 2015

The Queen Creek football team boasted a power-rushing offense that averaged 267 rushing yards and 10 pass attempts per game in 2013. It morphed into an air-raid offense – for one game, at least – when Devin Larsen threw 12-straight passes in first quarter alone versus Desert View last season. The Bulldogs totaled only four rushing attempts during the game’s first half. Is it possible the Bulldogs aren’t who I thought they were?

12th-straight pass is @devin_larsen12‘s 3rd TD pass of 1Q, 2nd to @Ian_Woods19. PAT missed @QC_football leads DV, 20-0. #FridayNight360AZ

— Andrew Luberda (@NVR2L8_ASU) November 5, 2016

I witnessed some of the greatest turnaround seasons in the state, including the Combs’ football team, which won only four games in the three seasons before Jesse Hart’s arrival in 2013. The Yotes won 18 games the next three seasons, making playoff appearances in each of them.

21 SR’s on @CombsHSFootball. Their legacy: THE group that “Changed the Culture” & “Raised the Expectations” of ‘Yotes FB program.#remarkable

— Andrew Luberda (@NVR2L8_ASU) October 4, 2014

The Poston Butte baseball and softball teams, once dormant, enjoyed their greatest success in the school’s history during the last two seasons, in which both teams made consecutive playoff appearances.

@PBhighschool Baseball also made 2nd consecutive postseason trip & had 3rd straight winning season. The best is still to come #BroncoStrong

— PB Broncos Baseball (@BaseballPBHS) April 27, 2017

In 2016, the Poston Butte boys’ basketball program won the 100th game in its history.

.@PBHSBoysHoops‘ 81-45 victory is the 100th win in the program’s history. #Congrats @PostonAthletics @Florenceusd pic.twitter.com/FCNuqYD3x5

— Andrew Luberda (@NVR2L8_ASU) November 23, 2016

A lone regular-season loss cost the San Tan Foothills’ football team a section title in 2014.

PRCA scores on 54-yd TD pass and reception. PAT failed. Lions lead 30-21. 2 possession game with 2:16 left in the game. STFHS no timeouts.

— Andrew Luberda (@NVR2L8_ASU) October 4, 2014

I started covering the aforementioned schools four-plus years ago after initially thinking I had no interest or business being a writer/reporter. Even if I did, it most certainly wasn’t going to be at the high school level. The Sun Devils, Cardinals, or Diamondbacks – those are the teams I would’ve considered covering – not the Coyotes, Broncos, Bulldogs or Sabercats.

During my time as a student at Arizona State University I worked a full-time job in addition to a part-time job at Skyview Networks, where a co-worker, who was then a recent graduate from ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism, was no longer interested in covering sports for the SEV Ledger. He asked if I was. I balked at first for the reasons mentioned previously, but I finally agreed to meet with the paper’s publisher, Michael Carnes. I was motivated by the thought that writing would help me in the Sports Information Director career I’d hoped to establish.

Michael hired me, which changed my career ambitions and eventually led it to here.

I’ve come to realize how arrogant I was four years ago and how fortunate I am to cover high school student-athletes. It’s the highest and last level of their sports’ careers for which they are playing only because they love it. After high school, they may play for that same reason; or they may play for the free education, a shot at the professional level, or perhaps other reasons that don’t include pure love for the game.

I’ve met several individuals along the way who have made a positive influence on me, providing some much needed, and appreciated, mentoring in my short writing career.

It starts with Michael and Jennifer Carnes, who are near the top of the family hierarchy that owns Copper Area News Publishers. For the past four years they paid me to write about sports, but it was the non-monetary compensation that was far more valuable. The respective General Manager and Managing Editor allowed me to gain confidence, giving me total autonomy to choose the stories I was comfortable writing. I will still write for their company, primarily for schools in the mining towns of Superior, Kearny, San Manuel, and Winkelman. County Line Preps will now be the home for the stories I previously wrote for The Ledger and STV Daily PRSS.

My position(s) at Skyview Networks allowed me to meet Brad Cesmat, the CEO of Sports360AZ.com. I remember watching Brad when he was the sports anchor at KTVK-TV here in Phoenix. My superiors at Skyview introduced me to Brad shortly after I wrote a story on Paul Moro taking the Poston Butte football job in 2014. Brad offered to let me contribute to his website. I was blown away.

In near disbelief at the time, I remember asking myself; Mr. Cesmat is going to let me contribute to his website?

After writing a few stories that were published on his website, Brad invited me for coffee. During our visit at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Gilbert, he complimented my writing. I was, again, blown away.

What? I’m a good writer? I’m still unsure if I really was then, or even am now, but who am I to question someone with Brad’s credentials and expertise. He made me believe I had something to offer, which increased my confidence even more.

Brad allowed me to parlay my contributions to Sports360AZ.com into my television debut on his show, Brad Cesmat’s Football AZ. I enjoy feeling like I’m part of the Sports360AZ.com family and look forward to continuing in whatever role Brad allows me to.

Past and present Sports360AZ.com reporters and producers, including Jared Cohen, Eric Sorenson and Jordan Hamm, have played a large role in what I hope has been improved reporting abilities. Jared and Eric offered encouragement, advice and taught me the basics of how to shoot and produce video features.

Eric and Jared also provided constructive criticism when needed. I respect them for that. I believe it’s made me a better writer/reporter. Fortunately for us – me and the readers of County Line Preps – Eric has agreed to make an occasional contribution here. I believe he is as good as anybody at writing and producing feature columns and stories.

I’m grateful for the relationships I’ve established with the coaches, athletic directors, principals, educators, and superintendents at schools and districts in Queen Creek and San Tan Valley. Without their willingness to allow me inside their schools and programs with access to the student-athletes, none of this occurs.

Many of you know my wife Kelli has paced sidelines and baselines with cameras, taking hundreds of photos and hours of video, which allows my thumbs to provide in-game updates on social medial. Those photos and videos enhance the written content I provide. She’ll continue those responsibilities and many more as my business partner.

Our son Kade is a senior at Coolidge High School and has been a member of the Bears’ basketball program for four years. Like other parents, we are proud of our student-athlete. We appreciate Kade understanding our absence at his games while we are “working” at others.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the student-athletes. They make my job easier. They are the reason I’m passionate about high school sports. I couldn’t do this without their cooperation. What kind of story could I tell without them?

But I must admit it’s not just what the athletes do on the field or the court that makes them amazing in my eyes. Sometimes it’s what they do off it that really endears them to my heart.

HUMBLED:only word 2 describe my feelings when @QC_football team unexpectedly attended my mom’s funeral mass this a.m.#ThankYou #Unbelievable

— Andrew Luberda (@NVR2L8_ASU) October 23, 2015

I’m anxious to get started, and I hope you are looking forward to reading our content. We’d love to hear from you – feedback, story suggestions, and even criticisms. Follow us on Twitter @CountyLinePreps and send a direct message if you’d like. Otherwise send us an email at contactus@countylinepreps.com or under the “Contact Us” tab near the top of the page.

 

Andrew Luberda

CEO

County Line Preps