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Hale will miss 2005 season with leg injury
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Brandon Hale's season lasted just 10 minutes. The Ceres High senior defender suffered a knee and leg injury while playing for the varsity boys soccer team in an exhibition tournament on Aug. 20 in Manteca.

"I just thought it was my knee and I'd be back in a couple of weeks," Hale said.

Paramedics popped Hale's right knee cap back into place on the field. His mother drove him to Memorial Hospital. X-rays revealed a hairline fracture of the upper part of his femur.

Hale, 17, has been playing soccer since the age of four. He's never had a major injury.

"The worse injury I had was a pulled groin," Hale said. "This is the first time I've broke a bone."

Hale took his brace off last week. He still has to hobble around on crutches.

"I'm bending my knee a little bit," he said. "I can't put pressure on it until I go to physical therapy. I got an appointment with an orthopedic specialist in two weeks. After that, I have to make an appointment for therapy."

Hale attended a team photo shoot on Aug. 26.

"I may have handed in my jersey but I'll still be on the sidelines cheering them on," he said. "I'm going to try to make it to every game and show up to a few practices."

Added Ceres coach Ryan Cerny: "He's still on the roster. I got him involved in everything that we do but he can't play. It's a bummer. He was going to do all the dirty work for us this year."

The Bulldogs will miss Hale's presence on defense.

"He's a leader out there," Cerny said. "He's smart, strong and aggressive."

Added Hale: "We have some good players we can slide into my spot. We'll be fine."

Senior Jose Cuevas filled in at stopper against Sonora on Aug. 23. Cuevas and the Bulldogs posted a 5-0 victory over the Wildcats.

"He did a great job at that position," Cerny said.

Hale watched and provided encouragement from the bench.

"I've already accepted the fact that I'm not going to play soccer this year," he said. "I still have track."

Hale helped lead the Ceres High boys varsity track and field team to a share of the Modesto Metro Conference title last year. He qualified for the section trials in three events, including the 200, 400 and 4x400 relay.

Hale is also an accomplished student. He's enrolled in five advanced placement classes, including biology, calculus, government, psychology and English.

"I'm on my to being valedictorian," Hale said. "Right now, I'm No. 1." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff reporter of the Ceres (Calif.) Courier