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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


  1. Spring football: East Lake 62, Osceola 28


    At Osceola


    East Lake 62, Osceola 28

    Spring game-breakers: Despite having to replace its starting quarterback, a playing receiver and three offensive lineman, East Lake's offense piled on the points against Osceola in a spring game for the third straight season. … The Eagles used three quarterbacks — Bobby Goldinak, Leland Johansen and Tyler Rupe — who were a combined 14-of-18 for 276 yards and four touchdowns. … Their favorite target was Bryce Miller, who had seven catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns. … East Lake also was effective on the ground, led by Xavier Jackson's 90 yards rushing on six carries and two scores. Jackson also returned the opening kickoff in the second half 98 yards for a touchdown. … Osceola running back Travis Wateska, who transferred from Seminole in the offseason, ran for 131 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. … Teammate Nick Shytle had 67 yards rushing on eight carries and two scores....

  2. Basketball recruiting: Shift from football pays off for Dunedin's Andrew Gordon


    Andrew Gordon's plan all along was to play football in college. The Dunedin defensive end wreaked havoc on opposing offenses all season. In the Pinellas County senior all-star game, he was named defensive MVP.

    The only hold back was academics. Gordon did not have the grade-point average or test score to qualify so he signed with Garden City (Kan.) Community College.

    It seemed his future was set. Then Gordon decided to play basketball for the first time this year because he said he wanted to stay busy....

    After leaving football, Andrew Gordon has received college basketball offers from Memphis and other schools.
  3. Basketball recruiting: Tampa Prep's Juwan Durham on the mend


    Tampa Prep's Juwan Durham tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Feb. 17. The injury usually takes about 10 months to fully recover. Durham, though, has accelerated his timetable so much that the rising senior could return to full basketball activities as early as August.

    "Juwan's had tremendous progress," Terrapins coach Joe Fenlon said. "He's ahead of schedule."...

    Tampa Prep power forward Juwan Durham is a five-star recruit with 15 offers in hand from major schools. He recently visited Louisville.
  4. For East Lake's Bryce Miller, it's his time to shine


    EAST LAKE — Bryce Miller knew that to play wide receiver for East Lake High School's football team the past two seasons was to play in the shadow of Artavis Scott and George Campbell, a pair of gifted playmakers who are rapidly becoming bona fide stars at the Division I level in college.

    Miller, a rising junior, started off buried on the depth chart. As a freshman two years ago, he was the third option in the passing game behind Scott and Campbell. Last season, Scott went off to Clemson. That moved Miller up to second banana behind Campbell. This spring, Campbell moved on to Florida State, where he is already making an impression....

    East Lake’s Bryce Miller (5) looks forward to his expanded role this season. “I want to do whatever I can to help this team this season,” the junior wide receiver said.
  5. Tampa Bay area prep stars continue softball success at LSU


    AJ Andrews and Bianka Bell started off as rivals on the softball field, each playing for different travel teams as youths.

    In high school they both became standouts — Andrews at Countryside, Bell at Chamberlain — and as seniors were named high school players of the year, in their respective counties, by the Tampa Bay Times.

    When it was time to choose a college, Andrews and Bell joined forces, each signing with LSU. Now they play key roles at the top of the lineup and have helped the Tigers reach the Women's College World Series for the fourth time in school history and the first since 2012....

    Bianka Bell’s power at the plate was well known when she played at Chamberlain High, and she continues to hit prodigious home runs at LSU.
  6. HomeTeam Huddle: Offensive line still a strength for East Lake



    For the past four seasons, East Lake's road to the playoffs has been paved by a mammoth group of guys up front. • East Lake's offensive line, the bedrock of the program, has helped clear lanes, as well as construct a path for the Eagles to make the region final for four straight seasons and the state semifinals the past two. • This season they'll have just as valuable a role, especially with East Lake breaking in new starters at nearly every skill position....

    Guard Julian Santos is a key cog in a beefy, talented offensive line at East Lake.
  7. Spring football: Clearwater 28, Clearwater Central Catholic 23


    At Clearwater Central Catholic


    Clearwater 28, Clearwater Central Catholic 23

    Spring game-breakers: Clearwater running back Adarius Lemons said his idol is James Wilder Jr. On Friday night, Lemons mimicked the power and speed of the former Plant and Florida State standout, rushing for a game-high 210 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. Lemons battled through a bruised ankle sustained in the second quarter and scored two of his three touchdowns in the second half, both on runs of 50 yards or more. His final score on a 54-yarder turned out to be the winner. …Tornadoes quarterback Garrison Bryant threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Zachary Lehman and finished with 102 yards passing. …Clearwater running back Tupac Blanch added 42 yards rushing on seven carries. …CCC quarterback Jakob Parks, who took over as the starter for the graduating Jeff Smith, was 10-of-18 for 116 yards and a touchdown. …Jervon Newton was on the receiving end of Park's scoring pass. The running back also scored on a 40-yard run. …CCC's other running back, Rashaad Stewart, finished with 124 yards rushing on 12 carries. …Tyler McDonald hit three short field goals for the Marauders....

  8. Spring football: Pinellas Park 13, Largo 0


    At Pinellas Park


    Pinellas Park 13, Largo 0

    Spring game-breakers: Thursday's game was a defensive slug fest that saw both teams combine to register nine sacks, force four turnovers and stop each other five times on downs. In the fourth quarter, the Patriots finally broke through thanks to Largo's generosity. The Packers decided to call a pass off a fake punt from their own end zone that was incomplete. Pinellas Park took advantage as Dale Foster scored on a 2-yard run. On the ensuing kickoff, the Patriots recovered a fumble. Zamari Maxwell scored on a 24-yard run to round out the scoring. …Pinellas Park's Jordon Scott showed why he's one of the best interior defensive linemen in the area with six tackles, three sacks and four for loss. …Teammate Nate Demint also played well, registering two sacks and recovering two fumbles. …With Isaiah Thomas academically ineligible, Largo went with Isaiah Bellamy and Taj Taylor at quarterback. …Packers defensive lineman Bobby Roundtree, who has gained interest from plenty of colleges, recorded two sacks....

  9. HomeTeam Huddle: CCC battered heading into spring game


    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Central Catholic's depth was stripped after losing 23 players to graduation. That left a roster of 40 that included some junior varsity players.

    Because of those numbers, or lack thereof, the Marauders could not afford any injuries this spring.

    That did not happen.

    CCC has 15 players out for Friday's game against Clearwater. The list includes receiver/defensive back CJ Cotman, who suffered a concussion during an officials' scrimmage against Anclote two weeks ago. Running back/defensive back Dilan Scargle (back), lineman Logan Miller (knee) and lineman Nathan Rubin (back) are among the others banged up....

    Offensive lineman Adam Samee, center, is one of CCC’s few experienced starters who will be healthy for Friday’s spring game against Clearwater.
  10. Largo High's Dakarai Allen's a born competitor


    LARGO — Dakarai Allen's journey from football unknown to college prospect can be traced to his childhood.

    The Largo High School receiver/defensive back is the youngest of seven siblings (four brothers, three sisters), nearly all of whom had some background in sports. Allen, though, proved that his road to stardom was not just paved in genes but also in sweat and tears.

    "Being the youngest, I was always picked on or getting beat up by my brothers," said Allen, who is heading into his senior year. "And we were all competitive. We'd play all kinds of sports where it would be the last man standing. It made me work that much harder."...

    Dakarai Allen (23) prepares to sprint downfield on a passing play against Dunedin High during a recent scrimmage. “When he started he was just a young pup and had to wait his turn. Once he got his opportunity, he made the most of it,” says Largo coach Marcus Paschal.
  11. HomeTeam Huddle: More hoops help for Tarpon Springs



    Last season, Tarpon Springs had three players from its basketball team — receiver Daniel Davis, tight end Mitch Wilcox and lineman Donald Davis — all play significant roles in helping the Spongers go 6-5 and advance to the playoffs as a district runnerup. • This spring, the Spongers are hoping another hoopster, Israel Atkins, can morph from a raw talent into a dependable receiver. • Atkins, a rising senior, has been a solid contributor on the court, averaging 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season. He said he always wanted to play football, but his mother would not let him until he had a 3.0 grade-point average. ...

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden continues his annual tradition of giving back to local football teams, presenting a $5,000 check to the Clearwater High team.
  12. IMG Academy's facilities help attract five-star football recruits


    IMG Academy coach Kevin Wright has been around impressive high school football programs in the past. His previous stops include Warren Central and Carmel, which annually compete for state titles in Indiana. • But even Wright, hired March 30 to replace Chris Weinke, marveled at the sheer size of IMG during a recent tour of the Bradenton campus with a college coach. • "We were driving around and just shaking our head at how big this place is," Wright said. "From that standpoint, just going around and seeing all the buildings in place, it's hard not to be in awe." • IMG sits on 584 acres — more than double the size of the University of Miami's campus in Coral Gables. It is not just in size that IMG mimics major colleges, it is in stature, especially with the cornerstone of its high school athletic colossus: football....

    The campus at IMG Academy in Bradenton is 584 acres, more than twice the size of the University of Miami’s campus in Coral Gables. Below, the locker room is part of a $198 million expansion project at the school, which has drawn five of the Tampa Bay area’s top recruits away from their original programs.
  13. CCC's Jakob Parks makes time for football and beach volleyball


    CLEARWATER — Jakob Parks is the frontrunner to start at quarterback for Clearwater Central Catholic and lead a program that has made the state semifinals the past three seasons.

    The junior has a plan to earn a scholarship and play the position in college.

    But Parks also moonlights as a beach volleyball player. Though he only plays on the weekends, Parks has shown so much promise that he could be on the fast track to the Olympics. Trouble is, there are no scholarship opportunities for male beach volleyball players — at least not in the foreseeable future....

    Clearwater Central Catholic QB Jakob Parks works through a passing drill during spring practice last month.
  14. HomeTeam Huddle: Calvary Christian, CCC land former Plant QBs


    Plant is always stocked with strong-armed quarterbacks. • So when Rex Culpepper became the starter last season, it was only natural that some of that depth would dwindle as backups looked for an opportunity to start elsewhere. • The exodus of signal callers has had a direct benefit for Calvary Christian and Clearwater Central Catholic, which have been able to fill holes at the position thanks to a pair of Panther transfers. ...

    Calvary Christian’s Richie Mize is in the mix to start under center and looked good at a recent scrimmage.
  15. Newsome High School Wolves are Class 8A softball champs


    The euphoria over Newsome High School's softball team winning the Class 8A state title continued this week.

    On Monday, the players were greeted by a raucous celebration as they took a victory lap around campus while the band played and students clapped with approval from classrooms.

    "It's been a memorable few days," Wolves senior Liv Chandler said. "I think it's all starting to show us how big an accomplishment it was to win. It really hit once we came back to school on Monday."...

    The Newsome High School Wolves — the new Class 8A state softball champs — celebrate on Saturday at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach. “It’s unreal to win this,” catcher Hannah Pridemore said. It was the Lithia high school’s first state championship.   The Newsome High School Wolves — the new Class 8A state softball champs — celebrate on Saturday at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach. “It’s unreal to win this,” catcher Hannah Pridemore said. It was the Lithia high school’s first state championship.