Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam is a fourth-generation Floridian who was born in St. Petersburg and graduated from Dixie Hollins High School (Class of '91). He went to St. Petersburg College (1991-93) and USF (1993-95) before working at the Times as a staff writer in 1996.

Phone: (727) 445-4169

Email: putnam@tampabay.com

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  1. Pinellas Game of the Week: Tarpon Springs 10, Dunedin 7

    Footballpreps

    TARPON SPRINGS — One swift kick, one 20-yard boot by Louie Zervos in the second overtime, lifted Tarpon Springs to a dramatic 10-7 victory over Dunedin in the Class 5A, District 8 opener for both teams.

    This was the first game-winning kick for Zervos, who is ranked among the top kickers in the nation. But it also was one of the most unorthodox.

    With the game played in steady rain, the field conditions were treacherous. Zervos was able to find enough footing and hit it with enough power, but the ball was tipped at the line. The wobbly line-driver ricocheted off the left upright, hit the bottom bar and fell through....

    Dunedin’s Alex Cuellar gets a hand on Tarpon Springs kicker Louis Zervos’ second overtime field goal but it’s good to lift Tarpon.
  2. The game's the easy part for Dunedin QB Argi Radani

    Footballpreps

    This is it for Argi Radani. This is his comfort zone.

    The pressure of being Dunedin's starting quarterback, the intense practice and preparation for tonight's Class 5A, District 8 opener against Tarpon Springs, the quest to win an appeal to play his senior — none of that makes Radani quiver.

    Confronted with tremendous challenges, from leaving war-torn Albania as a child to transitioning from eight-man football to the 11-man version, he firmly stands. This is not pressure, he insists. This feels so good....

    Dunedin senior quarterback Argi Radani is making the transition from eight-man football to 11-man in his final high school season.
  3. Florida offered fresh start for East Lake's Carson Lydon

    Footballpreps

    EAST LAKE — East Lake High linebacker Carson Lydon has made his usual assortment of eye-popping plays this season. Those hard-hitting sacks on heart-stopping blitzes, game-changing interceptions and blocked punts combined with the ability to squeeze his muscular 241-pound frame into running lanes to stop a play cold.

    On those ferocious hits, the Virginia Tech recruit uncoils his body with such force, opposing players often vibrate like a jackhammer. That is Lydon's release from the pain of losing a close friend to suicide, the heartbreak of his parents' divorce and the isolation of having lived in six states....

    East Lake’s Carson Lydon, left, lost close friend Dominick Doyle to suicide. Soon after, he learned of his parents’ divorce.
  4. Win rewards Tornadoes' hard work

    Footballpreps

    CLEARWATER — On the sideline came the unfamiliar sounds of celebration: the whooping and hollering of Clearwater High School players who had watched 682 days pass between their last victory and their 30-23 defeat of Palm Harbor University.

    Last week's win snapped a 13-game losing streak, the longest among Pinellas County teams.

    Some players said they forgot what it was like to win a regular-season football game, something they last accomplished Nov. 2, 2012. The current Tornadoes, mostly underclassmen, were not even on the varsity squad for that last win. They described the emotion as closer to relief than elation, noting that a 1-2 record looks a lot better than 0-3....

    Clearwater coach Donnie Abraham: “We still have to work at changing the culture of losing.”
  5. Three questions with Seminole RB Travis Wateska

    Footballpreps

    3 Questions | Travis Wateska

    Seminole High School running back Travis Wateska is more than just a battering ram. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound junior can dart around defenders to get to the outside. He also can make people miss, break long runs and catch the ball out of the backfield. Wateska is splitting the bulk of the rushing load this season with Chris Garza-McLean. They had the unenviable task of replacing Ra'Quanne Dickens, who graduated after rushing for 1,428 yards and 12 touchdowns. After three weeks of play, Wateska leads the team with 323 rushing yards. About the only thing Wateska has not been able to do is lead the Warhawks to more wins. They are 1-2 heading into their first district game tonight against Pinellas Park....

    Seminole’s Travis Wateska (5) heads back to the bench after he rushed for a touchdown against Dunedin in May. 
  6. Artavis Scott makes an early splash with Clemson

    College

    Clemson receiver Artavis Scott is a college freshman who has soared to records the way he has soared over and past defensive backs: with an explosive combination of athleticism and speed.

    In two games, the former East Lake High standout ranks 22nd among Division I-A receivers in yards per game at 102.5. Most of that came Sept. 6 when Scott had six receptions for 164 yards against South Carolina State to set a Clemson freshman single-game record. He surpassed the mark of 155 set by Sammy Watkins, a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills....

    Artavis Scott set a freshman single-game mark for receiving yards Sept. 6 against S.C. State.
  7. Sunday Morning Quarterback

    Footballpreps

    Four 200-yard rushing performances

    Chris Schwarz, River Ridge: The bulldozing back rushed for a career-high 299 yards and five touchdowns in a 42-21 win over Wiregrass Ranch. His rushing total in Week 3 was more than in his first two games combined (293).

    Stephon Williams, Calvary Christian: The senior transfer from St. Petersburg Catholic rushed for a career-best 270 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-7 win over Northside Christian to help the Warriors improve to 2-1....

    TP_360741_WALL_football_6 (10/12/2012  Tampa) Sickles' Ray Ray McCloud III (34) celebrates a 23-22 win over Hillsborough with his teammates. SECOND HALF ACTION: Hillsborough High School plays at Sickles on Friday. Sickles won 23-22. [DANIEL WALLACE, Times]
  8. Football: Clearwater Central Catholic 41, Jesuit 27

    Footballpreps

    TAMPA — Clearwater Central Catholic and Jesuit took 10 paces, whirled — and ran the football at each other.

    All night long.

    The Marauders were better equipped for the quick-hitting stuff. They had Jeff Smith, one of the area's most elusive quarterbacks in the area. With spectacular bursts of speed, the Boston College commit turned the corner and left pursuers breathlessly behind, rushing for 216 yards and scoring three touchdowns on the ground. His last score, a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter, proved to be the difference in a 41-27 CCC victory....

  9. Three questions with Calvary Christian RB Stephon Williams

    Footballpreps

    3 questions | Stephon Williams

    Last year, Stephon Williams was lost in the running back shuffle at St. Petersburg Catholic. He gained 726 yards rushing and scored eight touchdowns, but he was overshadowed by Jacquan Fuller and Tony Jones Jr., who each had 1,000-yard seasons. All were expected to return in what was supposed to be a stacked backfield. Instead, they were part of an exodus of star players. Jones is now at IMG Academy in Brandon. Fuller left for Indian Rocks Christian. Williams transferred to Calvary Christian, where he has a more prominent role as a running back. In two games, Williams has 252 yards rushing, 102 receiving and six touchdowns. He also leads the team in tackles with 24. Tonight, he leads the Warriors (1-1) against Northside Christian (2-0)....

    “I’ve been able to break off with a couple of nice runs,” said Stephon Williams.
  10. Dunedin quarterback Argi Radani wins appeal to play

    Footballpreps

    Dunedin quarterback Argi Radani was ruled eligible to play his final season by the Flo­rida High School Athletic Association during Thursday's sectional meeting in Bradenton.

    Radani, a senior, initially planned to remain a student at Clearwater Academy International, which does not offer 11-man football, while playing for Dunedin. State rules typically allow a student to play for another school if the nonmember private school has fewer than 125 students and does not offer interscholastic sports....

    Dunedin quarterback Argi Radani, handing off to Jordan Williams, is eligible to play tonight against East Lake but will not start.
  11. Vulnerability of Palm Harbor University High's boys swim team buoys others

    Swimming Preps

    The high school boys swimming season in Pinellas County started with a new script. For the first time in a decade, Palm Harbor University is not expected to dominate the opposition.

    Forget that the Hurricanes have won two state team titles in the past four seasons. Forget that they have 11 straight conference titles and eight straight district titles and entered the season with a nine-year undefeated streak in dual meets....

    The swimmer with the best chance of winning individual state titles is Seminole’s Stefan Spiric. The senior, ranked eighth in the state, is favored to win the 100 free and 50 free this year.
  12. Cross country: Pinellas runners to watch

    Crosscountrypreps

    The Pinellas County cross country scene took a hit with graduation, but plenty of talented runners remain. Here are the ones to watch this season.

    Girls

    Hayley Brahm, Northeast: The Vikings' top runner took first at last week's Pirate Invitational and leads a team that could contend for a district title.

    Hannah Brookover, Calvary Christian: The junior's eighth-place finish at last year's Class A state meet is tops among the county's returners. Last week, she placed second at the Lecanto Invitational....

    Calvary Christian’s Hannah Brookover returns after finishing eighth at last season’s Class A state meet as a junior.
  13. Football: East Lake 42, Largo 0

    Footballpreps

    EAST LAKE — There are a number of reasons East Lake has become Pinellas County's dominant program, from a punishing running game to a stifling defense.

    Perhaps the least known factor, though, is the Eagles' ability to play lights out on special teams. Last season, East Lake blocked 12 punts or field goals, nearly all of them resulting in scores or a short field.

    On Friday, the Eagles continued their knack for blocking kicks. Carson Lydon blocked one punt and tackled the punter before he could get off a punt on Largo's first two series. The Eagles turned both of those big plays into points, jumping out to a big lead en route to a 42-0 victory in which a running clock was used in the second half because of the mercy rule....

    East Lake High School’s senior linebacker Carson Lydon (3) sacks Largo High School quarterback Donovan Hale (4) during East Lake’s 42-0 win Friday night. “There’s something about playing this team (Largo) that makes me want to step it up and turn on another switch,” Lydon says. “I just want to go all out.”
  14. East Lake's George Campbell commits to Florida State

    Footballpreps

    In an intensely anticipated moment, East Lake receiver George Campbell announced his commitment to Florida State on Friday, ending a frantic recruiting period over the past nine months.

    Campbell made the decision during a webcast on ESPN.com's Recruiting Nation. The setting was subdued, held inside an office at school with a few family members in attendance.

    But his announcement reverberated throughout the recruiting world. Within minutes of making his decision, Campbell was trending on Twitter. That is not too surprising considering Campbell is one of two players in ESPN's top 100 for the 2015 class that has his own Wikipedia page....

    East Lake receiver George Campbell in Friday’s game against Largo, hours after he announces his oral commitment to Florida State.
  15. East Lake's George Campbell to announce college choice Friday

    Footballpreps

    After nine months of anticipation and three years of intrigue, East Lake receiver George Campbell's recruitment comes to a conclusion today.

    It will end without much fanfare. No big stage. No room full of students and players. No cameras flashing. Instead, Campbell, one of the most popular and charismatic players in the 2015 class, will make his announcement in a cramped office at school. He will gaze into a camera and render his decision on ESPN.com's Recruiting Nation....

    East Lake’s George Campbell decommitted from Michigan.