Long Island’s Gavin Casey may have had a little extra pep in his step in the Empire Challenge at Hofstra on Friday.
There was a good reason, too. The Wantagh three-sport standout had not participated in athletics since he broke his left ankle in Week 4 of the regular season with the Wantagh football team.
“I don’t want to say I had more energy [than my teammates in practice], but I think I was playing a little faster,” the linebacker said after recording four tackles, including a key stop on the final kickoff return of the game at the NYC 26 with 41 seconds left in Long Island’s 28-27 win.
“I was just enjoying every second,” he added.
Casey said he tore the ACL in his left knee in a lacrosse scrimmage before the start of his junior season. After nearly five months of rehab, he was cleared to play football in time for his final season, but then came his ankle injury on Sept. 28, 2017. He missed the rest of the year on the gridiron, as well as his wrestling and lacrosse seasons.
He started to wonder if he was snakebit with two major injuries in less than a year. But Casey worked hard through another rehab, and Wantagh coach Keith Sachs gave the 6-foot, 225-pounder the news that he had made Long Island’s roster.
“I feel so lucky to be out here,” Casey said. “Again, I’m just soaking everything up.”
Whether it was this week in practice (where he rolled his left ankle, which was heavily taped Friday night), or in the game. Still, his father was just happy to see him playing (and healthy) again.
“It’s emotional knowing what he’s been through,” Dan Casey said. “Honestly, I didn’t care how he played, as long as he didn’t get hurt.”
Casey, who said he felt “100 percent” after the game, is preparing to attend The Hun School in Princeton, N.J., and hopes to be looked at by a school like Stony Brook or Sacred Heart in the future.
“This is the first step,” Casey said, “in becoming the player I want to be.”