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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. Osceola hones in on next football coach


    Osceola athletic director Mark Robertson said there were 60 applicants for the football position to replace coach George Palmer, who is retiring after 26 seasons.

    The deadline for candidates to apply was Feb. 5. Robertson said he has already whittled the list to 14 with plans to get to a top 10 who will interview sometime next week.

    “We want to move fast, but we also want to do our due diligence,” Robertson said. “We want to be sure we find the right person who is the right fit to take over for someone who is a legend.”...

  2. Matt LePain steps down as Dunedin football coach


    Matt LePain stepped down as Dunedin's football coach after two seasons.

    LePain said he officially announced his decision Tuesday afternoon. He went 2-18 with the Falcons.

    "In a nutshell, I failed to build the program," LePain said. "Going 2-18 in two seasons is unacceptable to me. There is no such things as bad soldiers. There are bad leaders. I didn't do enough to get players out and keep them motivated. So it was time to evaluate things, and I felt it was time to see if someone else could do the job that I wasn't able to do."...

    Coach Matt LePain steps down at Dunedin after going 2-18 in two seasons. (Jim Damaske | Times)
  3. Girls basketball: Cape Coral 50, Clearwater 48


    CLEARWATER — In most games this season, Clearwater's opponents have been able to handle the heat — for a half. By the fourth quarter, the physical and mental strain of looking over their shoulder a quick-handed guard or dealing with the mad windmilling of another defender can be too much.

    The strategy starting paying off in the final frantic minutes of Tuesday's Class 6A region semifinal against Cape Coral. The Tornadoes' pressure extended to every nook and cranny on the court. It resulted in an avalanche of turnovers and allowed Clearwater to turn a seven-point deficit to one in the final 12 seconds....

  4. HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Andrea Wallace and Travis Bianco


    Andrea Wallace, Sunlake

    Andrea Wallace didn't think much of her basketball talent when she tried out for the team as a freshman.

    "I looked for my name under the JV list," the sophomore said. "I didn't think there was any way I would make varsity. But I did. There were times when I was asking myself, 'Why am I on varsity?' I didn't say a word to anyone at first. I was afraid they would bite me."...

    Sunlake basketball player Andrea Wallace. (courtesy of Reesa Hendrix Pledge)
  5. Boys soccer: Tampa Catholic savors long-awaited return to state final four


    The past week was one of the most memorable in Tampa Catholic's athletic history.

    Nate Craig-Myers, one of the most sought-after football recruits in the country, signed his national letter of intent to attend Auburn in front of classmates while ESPN televised the event.

    Two of the biggest basketball prospects in the country, Thomas Dziagwa and Kevin Knox, set school career and single-game scoring records while leading the Crusaders to a district title....

  6. Boys basketball: St. Petersburg 59, East Lake 45


    ST. PETERSBURG — All season, St. Petersburg had one of the best guard combinations in the bay area with Serrel Smith and Darius Banks providing a 1-2 scoring punch.

    Now, the Green Devils have added a third option with the return of Travis Bianco.

    The senior guard, who already has committed to Eckerd, played sparingly during the regular season because of a groin injury. He sat out the past two weeks to be ready for the Class 7A, District 10 tournament....

  7. Boys basketball: Bradenton Southeast 78, Gibbs 77


    Gibbs made a habit this season of pulling out close games with eight wins that were decided by five points or fewer.

    On Friday, the Gladiators had another tight one in the Class 5A, District 11 final. This time, Gibbs was unable to come though, falling 78-77 to Bradenton Southeast.

    It was the first time the Gladiators had lost to a district opponent this season. Now Gibbs will have to go through the playoffs on the road as a runnerup....

  8. Riverview honors coach in morning softball game


    On the surface, Riverview's 16-1 softball win over Spoto was not that significant. It was a blowout victory that was called Friday morning after five innings because of the mercy rule. Everyone on the Sharks' roster played at least one inning.

    But the game meant so much more to the players and coaches. It had everything to do with caring and loss and letting go.

    Riverview completed the emotionally exhausting task of playing a day after the program's longtime and beloved coach, Angela Slater, 53, died from a year-long battle with cancer....

    Riverview writes the initials “AS” on the softball field in honor of coach Angela Slater.
  9. Nature Coast RB DeShawn Smith's a Parade All-American


    Nature Coast running back DeShawn Smith, the nation's leading rusher this past season, is a first-team selection on Parade magazine's annual All-American high school football team. Smith and the team will be featured in the magazine Sunday.

    Smith was the only bay area player to make the list and just one of two from the state. Last year, Armwood's Byron Cowart, now at Auburn, was also a first-team selection....

    Nature Coast senior running back DeShawn Smith’s 3,715 yards led the nation this past season.
  10. Girls basketball: Palm Harbor University 74, Tampa Bay Tech 52


    PALM HARBOR — It was hard for Palm Harbor University not to look ahead to an anticipated rematch against Strawberry Crest in the Class 7A semifinals.

    After all, the Hurricanes gave the undefeated Chargers all they could handle in an eight-point loss in December. It was the only time Strawberry Crest did not beat an opponent by double digits this season.

    Before PHU could get that coveted matchup, it had to get past Tampa Bay Tech in Thursday's region quarterfinals. After a slow start, the Hurricanes turned it on in a 74-52 win....

  11. Riverview's Angela Slater 'a coach with a real passion for the game'


    Angela Slater, who led Riverview High to two state softball titles, died Thursday after a year-long battle with cancer, her husband Ron said.

    Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

    Mrs. Slater coached softball for 31 seasons and had more than 500 victories. After a successful college career at USF, Mrs. Slater took over as coach at Brandon. Plant coach Melissa Sigmon and Newsome coach Autumn Dunn both played for Mrs. Slater with the Eagles....

    Riverview’s Angela Slater continued to coach after being diagnosed with large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma.
  12. Supervision concerns at heart of Zephyrhills' move to on-campus football coach


    Zephyrhills High principal Angie Stone said last month that she was looking for a full-time, on-campus football coach, a decision that ultimately ended Reggie Roberts' six-year tenure.

    "It just works out so much better when you have a coach who is available to the students the entire day, not just at practice," Stone told the Tampa Bay Times on Jan. 5.

    Stone, in a district-generated document that was dated two weeks ago, said her desire for a full-time coach stemmed from the fact that practices started at 4:30 p.m. or later under Roberts, who is a detective sergeant with the Zephyrhills Police Department. ...

  13. Boys basketball: Northeast upsets Clearwater; Largo survives


    GULFPORT — Last week, Northeast had a ceremony at the school to honor boys basketball coach Dave Redding, who is retiring after 36 seasons. Many of Redding's former and current administrators announced the gym would be named after the longtime coach during the final home game of the regular season.

    Turns out, Redding might get another home game in his farewell season. This time in the playoffs....

  14. Long-awaited day finally comes for CCC's Logan Miller


    For the past three years, Clearwater Central Catholic’s Logan Miller sat in the school’s auditorium on national signing day, watching teammates turn their oral commitments into binding ones with colleges.

    On Wednesday, it was Miller’s turn.

    The defensive lineman had a hard time containing his excitement.

    “I didn’t sleep much,” Miller said. “I was up at 4:30 a.m. I faxed my letter of intent by 7:30 a.m.”...

    Logan Miller, left, and Kevin Harris get ready to sign at CCC's ceremony.
  15. Largo pipeline to Indiana continues with 2016 class


    Largo defensive back Brandon Drayton had 21 offers from several big-time schools, including Louisville, Miami and Nebraska.

    But he ended up signing with Indiana, a school that has become a destination for former Packer standouts.

    Adarius Rayner, who played for the Packers from 2008-09, made 20 starts during his career as a defensive lineman with the Hoosiers. Defensive back Jonathan Crawford and quarterback Donavan Hale, both 2015 Largo graduates, were freshmen at Indiana this past season....

    Largo players put pen to paper on Wednesday.