MIDDLETOWN >> Middletown High School quarterback Dario Highsmith has been named the Connecticut High School Gatorade Player of the Year for 2013-2014. Highsmith, a junior, is the first player to win this award from Middletown High School in the 29 years Gatorade has been recognizing the nation’s best players.
“Dario has a great football IQ,” said Middletown coach Sal Morello.
“He is a very special player. On top of that, he’s a great kid from a great family and is extremely coachable.”
Going into Saturday’s Class L semifinal game with Darien, Highsmith has led the 11-1 Blue Dragons with 2,565 yards rushing for 27 touchdowns. He has also thrown for 895 yards and nine touchdowns.
On defense, he has 39 tackles from his defensive back position, plus four interceptions and one fumble recovery.
“Highsmith is extremely fast, has great vision and is very durable,” said Wethersfield High coach John Campanello, whose team lost to Middletown 28-0 earlier this season. “He has had big games no matter who Middletown played. To have a chance at beating Middletown, you have to stop Dario.”
New London coach Duane Maranda, whose team lost to the Blue Dragons, 49-14, in the Class L quarterfinals Tuesday, said, “Highsmith is deserving of selection to the highest level all-state teams.
He’s hard to tackle, he’s slippery and does everything they ask him to do perfectly.”
Highsmith is one of the 51 finalists for Gatorade’s National Football Player of the Year. One player from each state, plus Washington, D.C., receives this award from Gatorade.
Highsmith is a B student taking a full load of advanced level and Advanced Placement courses at MHS.
“Only special kids win special awards like this,” said Middletown High School Director of Athletics Michael Pitruzzello.
In a press release from Gatorade, a spokesman said, “This award is not only for outstanding athletic excellence, but also for high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, which distinguish Highsmith as Connecticut’s best football player.”