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Zephyrhills: Get well soon, Kyle

Kyle Briscoe's return could help the Bulldogs recover from a rocky start.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 8, 2002


ZEPHYRHILLS -- Kyle Briscoe watched most of football season from the sideline, a brace on his left knee, his strong leg and booming kickoffs a missing element in Zephyrhills' district championship.

But when he injured his knee -- what turned out to be a broken tibia, dislocated kneecap and stretched ligaments -- his first thought wasn't how many football games he might miss. He was thinking two months ahead to soccer season.

"I've been playing soccer since I was 3 years old, so that was my first concern," said Briscoe, who was able to return for kickoff duty in the playoffs. "I knew I was going to come back for soccer season even if it was hurting me."

Coach Phillip Castro moved Briscoe to defense to begin the season, figuring it would be less stressful on his knee. The senior played sparingly in two games before deciding his knee wasn't ready.

He's continuing physical therapy three times a week with an eye on returning next month.

"I'm trying to do what I can," said Briscoe, whose rehab includes a regimen of leg presses, calf raises and balancing on a ball on his bad leg. "It's not completely healed, and it still hurts when I cut on it. But the (therapy) is going well, and every week, I can do more."

Briscoe had a team-best 13 goals to lead Zephyrhills to a third-place finish in the Sunshine Athletic Conference last season. After playing mostly defense his first two years, he moved to center midfield as a junior and will likely line up at forward this season. Castro said he has confidence in Briscoe anywhere on the field.

"He's a leader out there, him and (John) McKnight and Justin (Chauncey), and I could put them any place I had to and they'd do well," he said.

Briscoe hasn't been the only Bulldog out of the lineup early. Six players have been sidelined by injuries or violations of school rules in Zephyrhills' 1-3-1 start.

Watching from the sideline has given Briscoe a good look at this year's team, and he thinks the Bulldogs are capable of the same kind of success he saw in football season.

"I think we have the best team Zephyrhills has ever had, but we're just not playing like it right now," he said. "I've been trying to help on the sideline, do a little coaching, and I almost lost my voice after our last game."

Castro, too, has an optimism for where this team could finish in spite of its disappointing start. His team's recovery could go hand in hand with Briscoe's.

"If we get everybody back and everybody healthy, I think we'll be right there," Castro said.

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