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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. Know the foe: Previewing Friday's state semis, final


    It has been almost a year ago to the day, Nov. 28, 2014, when Jesuit played Bishop Moore in the Class 5A region final in Orlando.

    After regulation ended in a 20-20 tie, the game was forced into overtime. The teams traded field goals in the first overtime. In the second session, Bishop Moore scored first on a 10-yard run play and added the extra point.

    Faced with a fourth and goal from the 2, Tiger running back Malik Davis ran in for a score to make it 30-29. Jesuit decided to go for two, and when Trent Wessell's pass was batted away, the game and Jesuit's season was over. ...

    Armwood's next opponent, Cantonment Tate, has a pretty stellar run game. But Justin Manning and his 94 tackles might be a road block. (Monica Herndon, Times)
  2. Clearwater Central Catholic football coach John Davis steps down


    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic coach John Davis, who led the high school football program to four straight state semifinals, announced Monday afternoon that he is stepping down as coach.

    Davis coached 22 seasons in Pinellas County with two stints at CCC and one at Countryside. His tenure is one of the longest — and most successful — in the county. His 174 career wins rank fourth all-time among county coaches and was tops among active coaches....

    Chris Harvey, left, who was introduced as the new incoming Clearwater Central Catholic varsity football head coach on Monday (11/30/15), orders a set of pushups from player Logan Miller moments after it was announced that he would be succeeding John Davis at the school in Clearwater. The school had called all of Davis' players to the school cafeteria to hear the news.
  3. HomeTeam 25: Girls basketball rankings


    HomeTeam 25

    1. Seffner Christian (6-0)

    This week: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University, Friday at Cambridge Christian

    Scoop: The Crusaders had a week off but jump right back into it against PHU on Tuesday before a district game against the Lancers later in the week. Seffner Christian is beating opponents by an average of 19.2 points per game....

    Julia Ingram and Palm Harbor University haven't dropped a game yet this season.
  4. Girls basketball: Northeast coach Will White to step down at season's end


    Northeast girls basketball coach Will White said he is stepping down at the end of the season to spend more time with his family. 

    In 2010, White’s wife, Heidi, was involved in a serious accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury that requires White to be at home more often.

    White planned to make the announcement at the end of the season, but let the news “slip” and decided to tell his players this past week....

    Coach Will White on leaving Northeast: “I honestly planned to retire after a long career as the head girls coach at Northeast High School but my family needs just wouldn't allow that to happen.”
  5. Sunday morning quarterback


    Team of the Week

    Jesuit: Jesuit's defensive players said a shutout is the goal every week. In their first two playoff games, the Tigers gave up late touchdowns in blowout wins, which didn't really matter to anyone — except the Jesuit defense.

    Friday night, Jesuit shut out Fort Myers Dunbar 42-0, its fifth shutout this season. The defense was so dominant that it allowed 55 total yards, scored two of its six touchdowns and caused five turnovers....

    Armwood coach Sean Callahan, middle,  pumps his team up before the Hawks’ playoff victory over   Gainesville. Callahan, who has coached Armwood since 1990, leads his Hawks into their third straight state semifinal on Friday.
  6. Football: Delray Beach American Heritage 31, Clearwater Central Catholic 24


    DELRAY BEACH — Few people in South Florida thought Clearwater Central Catholic could beat Delray Beach American Heritage in the Class 3A state semifinals.

    The Stallions, after all, won last year's meeting 63-13 and were defending state finalists. American Heritage was supposed to be too fast, those on social media sites predicted. Too explosive. Too much.

    But the Marauders insisted this was a different team. Last year, they were missing seven key starters, including CJ Cotman. They were more balanced and not dealing with serious injuries this time....

    Clearwater's Logan Miller (56) becomes emotion after losing to American Heritage during the Class 3A state football semifinal at American Heritage in Delray Beach, Fla. American Heritage won 31-24.  (Brianna Soukup / Palm Beach Post)
  7. Chris Trebilcock, Becky Howarth win Times Turkey Trot 10Ks


    CLEARWATER — As 10 men surged off the starting line to form the lead pack at the 37th Times Turkey Trot's 10-kilometer race, one of the lesser-known members toiled in the middle of it, waiting for the right moment to make his move.

    Chris Trebilcock, running in the 10K for the first time, sailed past the finish line ahead of them all, winning in 33 minutes, 42 seconds Thursday.

    The former Florida Southern standout from Tampa had previously run in the 5K Wingding but wanted to try a more demanding race....

    Becky Howarth, 26, of Tampa builds a sizeable lead on the other female runners by trying to stick with the pack of lead males and wins the women’s 10K.
  8. Quarterbacks beware: Sack masters at play


    The deeper teams get into the playoffs, the more they tend to match up with elite quarterbacks. But those guys under center might want to look out for these sack masters in the next round:

    Plant City's prowess

    After Plant City's 35-15 region semifinal victory against Tampa Bay Tech, there's now a video on YouTube entitled "How to Blitz." That's because, in Raiders coach Greg Meyer's summation, his senior linebacker Cory Cotnoir took everybody to school....

    Clearwater Central Catholic’s Logan Miller is a veteran presence on a line with many new faces.
  9. Game-by-game greatness of Nature Coast RB DeShawn Smith


    The numbers Nature Coast running back DeShawn Smith has compiled seem preposterous. A national-best 3,555 rushing yards and 58 rushing touchdowns. Not to mention a whopping average of 16 yards per carry.

    Those mind-boggling stats are the main reason the Sharks (12-0) are undefeated and playing in Friday's Class 5A region final at Green Cove Springs Clay (9-3).

    And here's a scary thought for opposing defenders: Smith could put up even bigger numbers....

    In the first round of the playoffs vs. Zephyrhills, DeShawn Smith eclipsed 3,000 yards for the season.
  10. Goals come easy for soccer star at Clearwater Central Catholic



    The goals came so quickly for Clearwater Central Catholic's Kevin Harris that it was hard to keep track of them.

    A left-footed stab to the corner a few minutes into the season opener against Lakewood. A right-footed stab to the corner on a penalty kick. A 20-yard shot. A lightly tapped header. They kept coming. And coming.

    By the second half, Harris had six goals. He was taken out midway through the second half of an 8-1 victory....

    Like his father and his sister before him, Kevin Harris excels in sports for the Marauders. 
  11. Clearwater Central Catholic twins mean double trouble for foes


    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic coach John Davis admits he had trouble telling Jervon and Jerquan Newton apart when they first showed up for spring practice last year.

    The juniors, identical twins, are alike in more ways than just appearance. Same smiles. Same sunny disposition. Same competitiveness in anything that involves athletics.

    "It's easier to figure who's who when they're together because I can see some differences," Davis said. "But I still have trouble telling them apart when I'm around just one of the two. They look awfully alike. It's the first time I've ever coached twins."...

    Jervon Newton, left, leads CCC in rushing while twin Jerquan keeps QBs on their back as one of the team’s sack leaders.
  12. HomeTeam 25: Boys basketball rankings, Week 2


    1. Tampa Catholic (0-1)

    This week: Today vs. Brooks DeBartolo

    Scoop: The Crusaders opened the season with an 85-58 loss to Orlando First Academy, a state final four team a year ago, at the Hoops Exchange Shootout. Kevin Knox, who missed the first two preseason games for precautionary reasons after being diagnosed with high blood pressure, showed no signs of rust with a dominating performance. The junior had 31 points, 16 rebounds and three steals. Tampa Catholic will try to bounce back tonight against Brooks DeBartolo in a key Class 4A, District 9 game....

    Marquez Walls, right, and Gibbs are off to a 3-0 start to the season.
  13. State semifinal football capsules


    Class 3A Clearwater Central Catholic (12-0) at Delray Beach American Heritage (9-2)

    Road to the semis: Clearwater Central Catholic d. Melbourne Holy Trinity 36-0; d.Fort Pierce John Carroll 46-14; American Heritage d. Miami Westminster Christian 27-19; d. West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy 16-11

    Know the foe: The Stallions are in the state semifinals for the seventh time in the past nine seasons. They got there by beating Oxbridge in last week's region final on a 45-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from Cameron Smith to D.J. Davis on fourth and 9 with 35 seconds remaining. This is not the same team that beat CCC 63-13 in last year's state semifinals. American Heritage graduated 22 players. There's also a new coach, Keith Hindsley, who was an assistant with the program since 2012. He is the Stallions' fourth coach in the past 10 seasons. American Heritage still has talent. Senior running back Devin Singletary has offers from Florida A&M, Temple and USF. Last year, he ran for 156 yards and four touchdowns against the Marauders. ...

    Jakob Parks has been prolific under center for Clearwater Central Catholic, throwing 19 touchdowns so far this season.
  14. HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Aja Graham and CJ Cotman


    Aja Graham, Mitchell

    Graham, a freshman, moved from Palm Beach County to Pasco when her dad got a job promotion. That meant joining a new club team and a new school.

    "I was a little sad to leave all my friends," Graham said. "But everybody here has been very kind-hearted and open."

    It doesn't hurt that Graham is an elite soccer player. In seven games with the Mustangs, she has scored 10 goals and added three assists. In three games last week against Pasco, Sickles and Clearwater Central Catholic, Graham scored four goals and had three assists to help Mitchell improve to 7-0....

    Clearwater Central Catholic RB CJ Cotman (21), center, joins his team mate Jared Romaelle (57) for offensive drills during a Spring football practice on Monday (4/27/15) at the school in Clearwater.
  15. Sunday morning quarterback


    Team of the Week

    Before this season, Cambridge Christian had never even made a playoff appearance in 12 seasons as a program. After a 36-32 win against Admiral Farragut, the Lancers are one victory from the Class 2A state title game.

    Late in the game against the Blue Jackets, though, it seemed as if Cambridge Christian's best season yet was coming to an end.

    Admiral Farragut took an 18-point lead with just more than two minutes to play in the third quarter, but Cambridge scored 22 consecutive points to rally for the unexpected victory. Sophomore running back Andrew Cunningham had 127 yards rushing on 18 carries, including the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter....

    Running back DeShawn Smith rushes for 445 yards and scores all six Nature Coast touchdowns in beating River Ridge.