SYRACUSE - There was speculation all week around Rye whether Connor Eck was going to play yesterday. The sophomore quarterback severely sprained his ankle last week and missed three days of practice.
Not only did Eck play in yesterday's Class B state football final at the Carrier Dome, he wrote a chapter to what's quickly becoming a special high school career.
Eck threw for 56 yards and a touchdown in the 16-12 win over Oneida (Section 3), capturing a state title after his brother, Jordan, quarterbacked Rye to a championship last season.
"It's time to start calling him Connor, not 'Jordan's brother' anymore in the locker room," Rye senior center Ryan Rossi said. "He played a terrific game. He's just a leader. No matter what the stats, you just look in his eyes and you feel like you're going to win. I got that feeling with Jordan and now I've got it with Connor."
Eck completed 5 of 8 passes in the game, highlighted by a 15-yard touchdown to Patrick O'Callaghan in the first quarter.
The 6-foot, 180-pound Eck looked like he was going to be sacked on the play. As the pocket collapsed around him, he stepped out and threw a liner to O'Callaghan's chest he streaked across the back of the end zone.
Eck, who was sacked four times, was drilled as he released the ball.
"I went up to him and said 'Are you OK?' " said Rye guard Rob Santangelo, the game's most valuable offensive lineman. "He was like 'Yeah, I'm fine. Did you see we just scored a touchdown?' He was laughing. It was amazing."
Never yesterday, or at all this season, did it appear the pressure of being Jordan Eck's younger ever fazed Connor.
Jordan Eck, who now plays quarterback at Hamilton College, was last year's Class B state player of the year. He threw for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns, and was the MVP of the state final.
Connor Eck ends this season with 1,209 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and four rushing scores.
"Connor is another kid who has gone above all expectations," Rye coach Dino Garr said. "He was hurt and you could see the way he was running that he wasn't even close to 100 percent. He tried to scramble and he didn't have it. But he made some great throws for us."
Eck was in an air cast through Wednesday and returned to practice in a limited role on Thursday. Although he insisted to his teammates during the week that he planned to play, there were questions whether he'd be healthy enough.
His ability to overcome the injury and lead his team to a championship will earn even more respect from his teammates as Rye looks to extend its streak of six straight sectional titles when it moves up to Class A next year.
"I just treated this as a normal game," Eck said. "I don't think about how it will be analyzed or what everyone's going to say about it. I just played make game and let these seniors carry me to a state championship."