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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Phone: (727) 580-4395


  1. HomeTeam Huddle: Clearwater Central Catholic's 'Big Nasties'


    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic has an abundance of talent at the skill positions, making its offense one of the most explosive in the area.

    If there was one area of concern, at least going into the offseason, it was the offensive line. The Marauders lost two starters — guard Dallas Bruch and tackle Adam Samee.

    A lot of those worries were soothed with the arrival this semester of massive tackle Dillan Gibbons, a Notre Dame commit who transferred from Northside Christian....

    Clearwater Central Catholic offensive lineman Austin Lett
  2. HomeTeam Huddle: Recruiting spotlight on Clearwater DE Tramar Reece


    CLEARWATER — Tramar Reece's combination of athleticism and speed have transformed him from an unknown in the recruiting world to a coveted prospect.

    The Clearwater defensive end showed off his athleticism last season with 31 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three caused fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

    But the reason for the sudden interest in the rising senior has more to do with his size. After playing at 177 pounds last season, Reece is up to 215....

    Clearwater High School's Tramar Reece (9), center, played in Friday's (10/30/15) game with Osceola High School at Clearwater despite the sudden death of his mother yesterday. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)
  3. HomeTeam Huddle: Three-way quarterback battle at Countryside


    CLEARWATER — One of the top priorities for Countryside this spring was finding a replacement for quarterback Trent Chmelik, who set numerous school records while leading the Cougars to their first district title (on the field) since 2011.

    The competition has included a pair of rising juniors -— Derek Jenkins and Zach Johnson — as well as rising sophomore Rory Hicks. The three-way battle most likely will be settled by the end of spring. Countryside coach Eric Schmitz said he will use all three in a rotation during Friday's game against powerhouse Bradenton Manatee....

    Countryside quarterback Derek Jenkins
  4. Largo boys basketball assistant Kris Foote takes over at Clearwater


    Eight years ago, Kris Foote applied to be the boys basketball coach at Clearwater.

    He was a finalist but was passed over in part because he did not have the experience.

    After getting his coaching chops down at Largo — first as a girls basketball coach, then as a boys assistant — Foote applied again with the Tornadoes.

    This time, he was hired.

    Foote replaces Hall of Fame coach Tom Shaneyfelt, who is retiring this school year....

    Largo basketball coach Phil Price, center, celebrates with assistant coach Kris Foote after winning the the Class 6A semifinal, 56-54, against Pensacola on Feb. 26, 2016 at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland. (Zack Wittman, Times)
  5. Not so fast: Will White remains Northeast girls basketball coach


    Northeast girls basketball coach Will White, who said in November that he was stepping down at the end of the season to spend more time with his family, had a change of heart and officially announced he was staying as coach Monday.

    "I'm going to fall in with a long line of coaches who came back to coaching," White said. "I honestly stepped away because there were so many things going on that I needed to get resolved and I didn't know how long that would take."...

    In the past four seasons, Northeast's girls basketball program has averaged 17 wins a year under coach Will White. (Times file)
  6. SAC softball teams selected


    Here are the Sunshine Athletic Conference softball teams as selected by the coaches.

    East Division

    Player of the year: Shannon Saile, Sr., Land O’Lakes

    Coach of the year: Mitch Wilkins, Land O’Lakes

    First team

    P Shannon Saile, Sr. Land O’Lakes

    C Kameron Aitken, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch

    IF Tia Williams, So., Land O’Lakes

    IF Gianna Basilone, Sr., Sunlake...

  7. PCAC softball teams selected


    Here are the Pinellas County Athletic Conference softball selections. The teams are for public schools players and were voted on by coaches.

    North County

    First team

    P Stella Preston, Sr., Countryside

    P Diana Rayder, Sr., East Lake

    C Cheyenne Blumberg, Sr., Countryside

    1B Jordan Day, Jr., Seminole

    2B Nicci Palumbo, Jr., East Lake

    SS Mackenzie Griffin, Jr., Countryside...

  8. Spring football: Palm Harbor University 37, Nature Coast 2


    At Palm Harbor University

    Score: Palm Harbor University 37, Nature Coast 2

    Spring game-breakers: Last spring, PHU quarterback Cameron Mouton had a breakout performance with two touchdown passes and another rushing against Nature Coast. On Friday, the rising senior had similar numbers, completing 14-of-19 passes for 224 yards and two touchdown and rushing for another score in the first half. … .Both of Mouton's touchdown passes went to TJ Colmery, who had five receptions for 40 yards. … In all, six receivers caught passes. The other top targets were Lake Scott (four catches for 85 yards) and Ryan Wahl (three receptions for 72 yards). … Hurricanes running back Jamaine Derogene scored on a 35-yard run and Hayden Schuster hit a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to round out the offensive scoring. … The biggest turnaround for PHU was its defense, which stopped the Sharks four times on downs and recorded three sacks. The defense also was responsible for a few scores with a safety and a touchdown off a fumble return by Dagan Cecere that made it 37-0 in the third quarter. … Nature Coast was learning how to adjust without record-setting running back DeShawn Smith, who is graduating. Michael Weston and Willie Coffey handled the bulk of the rushing and combined for more than 70 yards. … The Sharks prevented a shutout with a safety in the third quarter....

    Palm Harbor University's TJ Colmery scored two touchdowns in the first half against Nature Coast in Friday's spring game. Colmery caused headaches for the NCT defense in just two quarters of play. (Andy Warrener, Special to the Times)
  9. Spring football: Pinellas Park 28, Largo 8


    At Largo

    Score: Pinellas Park 28, Largo 8

    Spring game-breakers: The Patriots showed off their depth in the running game with eight players getting at least one carry — three of whom accounted for four touchdowns on the ground. … Zamari Maxwell and Kai Washington split time at quarterback for Pinellas Park. Both only completed five passes but made plays in other ways. Maxwell had an impact as a receiver with two nice catches for 67 yards. Both receptions came on scoring drives that ended on short touchdown runs from Azyia Vance and Torrence Andrews. … Washington, who transferred from Hardee this offseason, showed off his wheels, scoring on runs of 27 and 41 yards. … Massive Patriots defensive tackle Jordon Scott was in on two sacks, including a forced fumble that teammate Shawn Binion recovered. … Largo's defense came up with three turnovers inside their own territory. Calvin Lockett and Brian Springer each recorded interceptions, and Ozell Hall recovered a fumble. … Bobby Roundtree had two sacks for the Packers … Quarterback Isaiah Bellamy prevented the shutout by scoring on a 20-yard in the fourth quarter and hitting Julian Cooney on an 82-yard touchdown pass. Bellamy also had more than 100 yards rushing for Largo....

    Largo High School's Isaiah Bellamy (2) rushes the ball against Pinellas Park High School during Thursday's (5/19/16) Spring football game at Largo.
  10. HomeTeam Huddle: Calvary Christian QB Richie Mize seizes control


    CLEARWATER — Calvary Christian quarterback Richie Mize had some impressive numbers last season: 1,627 passing yards, 684 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns.

    Because Mize is such a dual threat, coach Todd Yoder is giving the quarterback more control of the playbook. Mize will have the ability to decide to run or throw in read-option plays and will be allowed to call audibles at the line of scrimmage....

    Calvary Christian High School starting quarterback Richie Mize attends a team practice on Wednesday (8/5/15) at the school in Clearwater. (Douglas R. Clifford, Times)
  11. NFL fellowship awaits Tarpon Springs alum Atif Austin


    Atif Austin has put together an impressive football coaching resume in the past two years. The former Tarpon Springs High School standout and coach has been an assistant with North Dakota State, which won Football Bowl Subdivision (Division I-AA) national titles in 2014 and 2015.

    Austin's meteoric rise has taken him to the pinnacle of coaching: the NFL.

    Austin was recently accepted into the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program and will work with the Baltimore Ravens as an assistant this summer....

    North Dakota State assistant Atif Austin will take part in the Bill Walsh NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship program.
  12. HomeTeam Huddle: Another quarterback competition at East Lake


    EAST LAKE — Quarterback competitions have almost become a rite of spring at East Lake.

    For the third time in the past five seasons, the Eagles are searching for a starting quarterback. Each time there is a lengthy list of viable candidates who are vying to be the signal caller for one of the area's premier programs.

    In April, East Lake had five quarterbacks in the mix. That list has been whittled to four with two emerging as the front-runners: rising senior Tyler Rupe and rising junior Jackson Rowland. ...

    East Lake High School quarterback Tyler Rupe (10) scrambles on a pass play during a team practice on Tuesday (5/10/16) at the school in East Lake.
  13. HomeTeam Huddle: Defensive line carries the load for Largo


    LARGO — For years, Largo has been known for producing defensive backs who went on to the NFL or college.

    Brandon Drayton (Indiana) and Taj Taylor (Northwest Missouri State) both played key roles this past season and are heading off to college. Drayton joins former Packer standout Jonathan Crawford and Donavan Hale as members of the Hoosiers.

    The loss of those players the past two seasons has taken a toll. The Packers still have talent in the secondary with Cameron Tisdale and Jaquan Hiers both returning. But there is not as much depth. To make matters worse, Tisdale broke his collarbone and is out for the spring. ...

    Largo defensive end Bobby Roundtree
  14. HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Morgan Brown and Trevor Foley


    Morgan Brown, Calvary Chistian

    After clearing 10 feet, 6 inches in the pole vault, Calvary Christian's Morgan Brown had to wait to see if three other girls made that height before a state title in the event would belong to her.

    One by one, the other contenders missed. Brown was the first — and only finalist — to make 10-6. She wanted more. She cleared 11 feet before missing at 11-6. No matter. The junior already had won what had been an elusive title at the Class A state track meet at IMG Academy in Bradenton....

    Cross country/track standout Trevor Foley of Hernando
  15. HomeTeamHuddle: Offensive depth, not talent a concern for Palm Harbor University


    PALM HARBOR — Every now and then a team pops out of a spring game and makes a name for itself. Palm Harbor University did just that last May.

    The Hurricanes unveiled a potent passing game and nearly matched Class 5A region finalist Nature Coast score for score before falling 34-32. PHU quarterback Cameron Mouton threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. His favorite target was TJ Colmery, who had 95 yards receiving and two scores....

    PHU QB Cameron Mouton (3) takes a snap during football practice at Palm Harbor University, Wednesday afternoon 9/2/15.