Father Lopez running back recovering after head injury, emergency surgery

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Mon. September 27, 2010 | Eduardo A. Encina

Daytona Beach Father Lopez running back Erik Hatch, who suffered a serious head injury in Friday’s game against Seffner Christian Friday night at Plant City, is in stable condition and recovering in the Tampa General Hospital intensive care unit after emergency surgery to relieve pressure and swelling of his brain, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Sunday.

Hatch, Father Lopez’s leading rusher, suffered blunt force trauma to the head following a helmet-to-helmet hit in the fourth quarter of Seffner Christian’s 22-9 loss to Father Lopez, the News-Journal reported. After the hit, he waved to the sideline for a replacement and came off the field under his own power, but began vomiting and lost consciousness. He was then airlifted to Tampa General Hospital.

"It was serious. By far, nothing even compares," Lopez coach Jim Sweeney told the News-Journal. "As soon as we got the ball back, we were just trying to run the darn (clock) out because we had a bunch of kids who could care less about football at the time. We had 30 kids in tears."

Hatch underwent two hours of surgery to remove a piece of bone from his skull to relieve the pressure and swelling on his brain. The entire procedure took five hours, the report said. He will remain in intensive care until early this week and then likely be moved to a private room. It could take a month to recover, but lingering effects of the hit could last up to a year.

"It visibly shook their kids and ours, too," Seffner Christian coach Steve Lewis said. "The last 2:38 were played -- I certainly wouldn't call it half-hearted football, but you could tell the kids were anxious to get the game over with."

Staff writer Adam Berry contributed to this report.

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