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Centereach's Justin Eck wants to play well for his dad -- and does he ever!

Justin Eck, a wide receiver and cornerback on

Justin Eck, a wide receiver and cornerback on the Centereach football team, celebrates one of his two interceptions run back for a touchdown on Sept. 19 against Copiague. Credit: Famly photo

Never before had Justin Eck been so excited to look over game tape with his father.

So the day after a game in which the crowd chanted his name, Eck grabbed his iPad and headed for the hospital. There the Centereach wide receiver showed highlights of the game to his Dad, Bobby.

"I know I made him really proud," Eck said. "It really cheered him up."

After catching a pass along the sideline in the Cougars' season opener Sept. 11, Eck said his head snapped back as he hit the ground. He continued to play until teammates noticed him acting strange in the huddle. He was removed from the game and taken to Stony Brook University Hospital.

Shortly before, unbeknownst to Eck, his father had been taken to the same hospital.

"We left after the third quarter and went straight to the hospital," said Justin's mother, Debbie. "I'd say a half-hour later, they brought Justin there."

Earlier in the day, Eck's father had undergone a CT scan. He left the game early with Debbie after his doctor called telling him to go to the hospital's emergency room to discuss the findings.

"I was very proud of Justin that he was able to keep his mind on the game while having all the issues that happened to his dad," Debbie said.

That Tuesday, Debbie said Justin visited a concussion specialist who said he had no symptoms of a concussion and diagnosed a chemical imbalance.

As badly as Eck wanted to play in his next game to honor his father, he wasn't expecting to do so. But after undergoing Return to Play Protocol during the week, he was cleared. Because Eck -- the Cougars' top receiver, cornerback, and field goal kicker -- was unable to practice all week, he was going to play only sporadically, if at all.

"He was in our coordinator's ear a little bit asking when he was going to get in there," Centereach coach Adam Barrett said. "He's sitting watching a game knowing he can help the team so much. I'm sure it was a little frustrating for him."

That frustration ended when Eck checked in during the third quarter. The game between Centereach and Copiague was scoreless in the fourth until Eck made a 38-yard field goal to give the Cougars a 3-0 lead with 4:35 left.

"Then he wanted to stay in the rest of the game and play his position," Barrett said. "So he ended up doing that."

Just 22 seconds later, Eck jumped a slant route, intercepted the ball and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. He kicked the extra point for a 10-0 lead.

On the very next drive, Eck intercepted a lob pass and ran it back 31 yards to the end zone. He converted the point after to take a 17-0 lead with 1:44 remaining.

"For him to do it again, it was like, 'Was that him again?''' Debbie said. "It was incredible. The fans in the stands were chanting his name at that point."

The Cougars won 17-6, with Eck accounting for all of Centereach's points.

"It meant a lot to still be able to help the team under the circumstances," said Eck, who on Saturday hit a 28-yard field goal to give Centereach a 3-0 win over Half Hollow Hills East. "My teammates were proud of me for being able to get through what I was going through and still have a great game."

No one was more proud of him than his father.

"He was ecstatic," Debbie said. "It made his day."

"Being able to do that for my dad was a great feeling," said Eck, who also plays basketball and lacrosse. "I'm going to keep playing hard and doing the best I can for him. And I'll make sure to always watch the games with him afterward to get pointers on what he thinks I can do better."

Any pointers from Dad after watching his son's 17-point game?

"He just smiled," Eck recalled, "and said I have to do it again."

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