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All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year: Burroughs High's Gerlach finds his niche on pitch

Indians' Brandon Gerlach was asked to be more of a leader and responded by leading Indians to a successful season.

April 01, 2014|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
  • Burroughs High senior defender Brandon Gerlach is this year's All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Burroughs High senior defender Brandon Gerlach is this…

It was something that Brandon Gerlach had done hundreds, maybe even thousands of times since he took up soccer as a boy.

In a nonleague match in December, the Burroughs High senior midfielder slid a few times on the artificial turf, opening a sizable wound on his thigh.

“I was wearing my old sliders because I couldn’t find my new ones and those ones had a hole in them,” Gerlach said. “I ended up sliding a couple of times and I opened up my leg pretty good. But I just thought ‘OK, I’ll just put some bandages over it and it should be fine.’”

Patched up, Gerlach didn’t miss his next start for the Indians. Being one of the team’s captains, the senior wasn’t going to let his injury sideline him.

However, in the second straight contest, he slid right on the same spot.

“In the next game, I just ended up grinding it down and it got pretty bad,” Gerlach. “Then it got infected and that’s when I had to go in. It was really gross looking.”

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When the infection persisted, Gerlach was taken to receive emergency medical attention on Dec. 19, causing him to miss a nonleague contest against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

The infection was so severe that Gerlach was sidelined for about three weeks. The time sitting on the bench was excruciating for Gerlach. He longed to be where he felt most comfortable and felt helpless not being able to help his team.

“It really sucked,” Gerlach said. “It was so hard for me to just sit there and watch. I was just waiting until it got better and I could get out there and play. I just wanted to play.”

Gerlach’s teammates were well aware of their leader’s strife.

“Brandon’s a pretty tough guy, so for something to keep him out of a game, you know it is pretty bad,” said Michael Conrad, a senior defender. “I know he didn’t like having to sit out.”

Once healed, Gerlach rejoined the team and took up right where he left off as a leader for Burroughs. Running the team’s set pieces and directing the Indians as perhaps the team’s most skilled player, Burroughs responded and embarked on a fruitful Pacific League campaign.

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