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. Region swimming: Wiregrass Ranch girls making a few waves this postseason

    Swimming Preps

    CLEARWATER — Wiregrass Ranch's girls swim program had done impressive things in the regular season, winning every dual meet and finishing second in the Sunshine Athletic Conference.

    That success has continued into the postseason.

    After winning their first district title last week, the Bulls won their first region title Wednesday, scoring 265 points in the Class 3A-2 meet at the Long Center....

  2. Pinellas girls soccer: Field is wide open

    Preps

    With the girls high school soccer season starting this week, one question overrides others:

    Where did everyone go?

    Palm Harbor University and Shorecrest, the two Pinellas County teams that advanced to the state semifinals last season, are rebuilding after losing the bulk of their lineups to graduation. With many teams rebuilding, there could be more parity than ever. Here's a preview:...

    Olivia Red, left, returns to help lead Seminole’s offense. The junior finished with 15 goals and 23 assists last season.
  3. Sunday morning quarterback

    Footballpreps

    Team of the week

    River Ridge: Royal Knights coach Ryan Benjamin did not hide the fact that a win over Hudson would mean the school's first playoff berth since 1998. His team responded with a decisive 46-14 win over Hudson. The win secures a district championship for a team that was 3-7 last season. "Our record didn't really show it, but we were much better than 3-7 last year," Benjamin said. "It's just experience this year. Losing some close games last year actually helped us this year. Now we are winning those close games. We know how to win now."...

  4. Football: East Lake 45, Pinellas Park 14

    Footballpreps

    PINELLAS PARK — East Lake receiver George Campbell stood by a fence when a media horde swarmed around him moments after his team clinched its fourth straight Class 7A, District 9 title with a 45-14 demolishing of Pinellas Park.

    Campbell, a five-star recruit who has committed to FSU, resumed his rightful place in the spotlight, patiently answering each question after he came up with his biggest performance of the season with eight catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns....

  5. District swimming: Osceola girls take 3A-8 title

    Swimming Preps

    ST. PETERSBURG — Osceola coach Karen Smalley knew she had enough returning talent for her girls to win their fourth straight Class 3A, District 8 swimming title. What she did not expect was how dominant the Warriors would be in doing so.

    Osceola won the meet convincingly Thursday, scoring 466 points to beat Lakewood Ranch by 131.

    "The girls were just awesome and did all the little things right," Smalley said. "The turns and the starts were extraordinary. That's an encouraging sign going through the rest of the postseason....

  6. Tarpon Springs' Davis off to a legendary start

    Footballpreps

    TARPON SPRINGS — For his seventh birthday, Daniel Davis was allowed to get whatever he wanted.

    Davis chose a tattoo.

    The request prompted a few double takes from his mother, Tiffaney Lake.

    "I thought it was going to be simple," Lake said. "I figured Daniel would want to go to Busch Gardens, Chuck E. Cheese, something that most 7-year-olds would want. But once he told me he wanted this, I said, 'Oh Lord.' "...

    Daniel Davis, now a 5-foot-9, 160-pound receiver, had his nickname, Bug, tattooed 
on his arm for 
his seventh birthday.
  7. Region golf: Haydyn Gibson leads Osceola to title

    Preps

    SEMINOLE — A week ago, Osceola's Haydyn Gibson cruised to an individual district title because of the competition, or lack thereof.

    That was not the case in Wednesday's Class 2A, Region 6 tournament. Gibson squared off against Sebring's Kendall Griffin, a familiar foe from years of playing together in tournaments. After 18 holes, both were tied atop the leadership with 73.

    That forced a playoff. ...

  8. Region golf: Mitchell sweeps into state tournament

    Preps

    TRINITY — Mitchell's girls team repeated as the Class 2A, Region 5 champion with an overall score of 330, four strokes better than last year's region title team.

    Once again, Shyanne Dove led the Mustangs with a tournament-low 77 Tuesday at Heritage Springs, tying her score from last year's tournament.

    "I played well, but I left a few shots out there," Dove said. "I'm way more proud of my team for winning again."...

  9. Sunday Morning Quarterback

    Footballpreps

    Team of the week

    Leto. The Falcons won their first game (on the field) since 2009. Leto was credited with a forfeit win over Armwood in 2011, but the 18-15 win over Middleton on Friday was much sweeter. The win snaps a 32-game losing streak, and of course it wasn't easy. Leto led 18-7 with five minutes to play, but a fumble in Middleton territory turned into a touchdown and a two-point conversion made it an 18-15 lead. When asked if he had any fingernails left, Leto coach Matt Kitchie said, "No."...

    Larnez Scroggins of Land O’Lakes looks for running room Friday against Sunlake, which won 42-14.
  10. Recruiting: Get out of Chris Schwarz's way or get run over

    Footballpreps

    River Ridge's first six games of the season were all been played on slippery, muddy fields. So the Royal Knights needed a workhorse back who could take over, a guy with strength, speed and indefatigability to lower his head and charge forward while gorging on yards.

    Chris Schwarz has thrived in that role.

    In his first full season as a starting running back, Schwarz has already set the school's single-season rushing record with 1,183 yards heading into Friday's game vs. Wesley Chapel. The junior also has a knack for finding the end zone with 11 touchdowns. Those impressive stats are a big reason River Ridge is in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 1998....

    Chris Schwarz has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of River Ridge’s first six games.
  11. Pass happy: Year of QB in Tampa Bay

    Footballpreps

    The high school football season has been shaped to an extraordinary extent by Tampa Bay quarterbacks who consistently put up eye-popping numbers. • Five quarterbacks have already thrown for 400-plus yards in a game. Twelve are ranked among the top 50 (for passing yards) in the state, according to MaxPreps. Several other schools have set yardage records in a game. Even St. Petersburg has shucked its rushing roots with quarterback Austyn Causey throwing 10 touchdowns, four more than the previous two seasons combined. • The trend toward this air raid was inevitable. In the past decade, the bay area has slowly shifted toward the pass with no-huddle offenses, spread formations and shotgun snaps inching closer to the norm. Better still, most of these performances have come during rainy weather that was all too common the first half of the season. • So what is the reason behind such a sharp spike in production? • There are several answers, according to John Kaleo, a former Maryland and Tampa Bay Storm quarterback who now runs an academy that trains local high school signal-callers, as well as some college and professional players. He has almost 30 prominent quarterbacks — including Clearwater Central Catholic's Jeff Smith, Alonso's Chris Oladokun and Berkeley Prep's Brad Mayes — from the next three recruiting classes currently under his tutelage....

     (10/03/2014) Gulf's quarterback Keshaun Peters (7) passes the ball while fullback Uly Velez (1) looks for a block against Hudson’s defense during the first quarter. Gulf played Hudson for the North Suncoast game of the week at Gulf High School Friday October 3, 2014.
  12. Largo looks to add to district title reign Friday night

    Footballpreps

    LARGO — When it comes to district football games, Largo High School has been dominant but not domineering, and oddly under the radar for a repeat champion on the verge of an impressive milestone.

    The Packers (4-2, 1-0), owners of a Pinellas County-record nine straight district titles, can all but clinch their 10th tonight with a win at home against Class 6A, District 7 foe Venice (7-0, 1-0)....

    Largo quarterback Donavan Hale, shown in a preseason game versus Dunedin, has recovered fully from an ankle injury.
  13. Three questions with Countryside linebacker Taylor Zahralban

    Footballpreps

    Taylor Zahralban's football career could be over in four games. The Countryside High School senior plans to join the Marines once he graduates, with the goal of eventually working for the Secret Service. He is following the similar path of his brother, Russell, a Countryside graduate who works for the FBI. Zahralban started playing football in youth leagues as an offensive lineman. He switched to linebacker once he got to high school and is a two-year starter on varsity. To extend his football career beyond the regular season, Zahralban will try to lead the Cougars (6-0) to the playoffs. Countryside's biggest challenge in advancing to the postseason comes tonight with a game at East Lake (6-0). Both teams are at the top of the Class 7A, District 9 standings. Zahralban has never beaten the Eagles in high school. He lost twice to East Lake on junior varsity and once last year on varsity....

    Countryside linebacker Taylor Zahralban is ready to battle East Lake.
  14. Sunday Morning Quarterback

    Footballpreps

    SMQ team of the week

    Zephyrhills: The first half of the Bulldogs' season has been characterized by blowout wins in which they piled on the points. That was not the case Friday night against Nature Coast. In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs trailed 14-7 in a key Class 5A, District 6 game. Zephyrhills rallied, scoring 10 points down the stretch, including a 33-yard field goal by Zach Gleaton with 33 seconds remaining, for a 17-14 victory. The Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1) have the edge for at least a runnerup spot in the playoffs. More important they found a way to win a close game, something they had trouble with last season. Zephyrhills dropped its final two games in 2013, including a 24-16 loss to rival Pasco that knocked the Bulldogs out of playoff contention....

    SP_352677_KEEL_ALSTOTT_SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times (04/11/2012 ST. PETERSBURG )   2. Former Tampa Bay Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott holds a press conference, Wednesday at Northside Christian School after  being officially announced as the school's head football coach.     
SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times
  15. Pinellas Game of the Week: Countryside 29, Tarpon Springs 20

    Footballpreps

    CLEARWATER — Countryside's offense strives for balance and is known these days for its blur of a tempo. There are shotgun formations and rollouts and screens.

    But when it mattered most, the Cougars issued a reminder Friday night of the value of smash-mouth football between the tackles.

    Clinging to a two-point lead in the fourth quarter, Countryside went back to the basics, offering a primer on the value of an old-school run game on a drive that ended with Dante Satcher scoring his third touchdown of the night in a 29-20 win over Tarpon Springs....

    Countryside’s Dante Satcher is tackled by Tarpon Springs’ Mitchell Wilcox in Countryside’s victory.