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Middletown High's Dario Highsmith is Gatorade's Football Player of Year

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior quarterback and defensive back has led the Blue Dragons to an 11-1 record.

Middletown junior quarterback Dario Highsmith fends off Farmington’s Jayson Martin and ran for a total of 298 yards against Farmington on Nov. 2. Catherine Avalone / The Middletown Press
Middletown junior quarterback Dario Highsmith fends off Farmington’s Jayson Martin and ran for a total of 298 yards against Farmington on Nov. 2. Catherine Avalone / The Middletown Press
The Middletown High School Blue Dragons earned national attention today when Gatorade named junior quarterback and defensive back Dario Highsmith as its Connecticut Football Player of the Year. 

The award, which recognizes outstanding athletic excellence and high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field, distinguishes Highsmith as Connecticut’s best high school football player, according to Gatorade.

This multitalented athlete follows in the footsteps of his father, Dario Highsmith Sr., who, according to the Middletown Press, helped the Blue Dragons pummel Bristol Central, 27-0, in the 1987 Class MM title game at Veterans Stadium in New Britain. Highsmith Sr. is among 13 sports stars and two teams that will be inducted into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame Jan. 30 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior quarterback and defensive back has led the Blue Dragons to an 11-1 record and a berth in the Class L state semifinals against Darien High on Dec. 7.  At the time of his selection, Highsmith had rushed for 2,565 yards and 27 touchdowns on 219 carries and thrown for 895 yards and nine TDs on 31-of-52 passing. 

Now a finalist for the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year award, Highsmith, who will start his senior year next fall, joins an elite alumni association of past state award-winners in 12 sports. He also plays basketball and baseball for Middletown High School as well as American Legion baseball.

On defense, Highsmith, the 2012 Central Connecticut Conference Division II West First Team honoree, had recorded 39 tackles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery. He's also maintained a B average in the classroom and volunteered locally as a youth football coach and mentor.  

“Dario Highsmith is extremely fast, has great vision and is very durable,” said John Campanello, head coach of Wethersfield High. “He has had big games all year no matter who they played. To have a chance at beating Middletown you have to stop Dario.”  

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.

The selection process is run by the Gatorade high school sports leadership team and USA TODAY High School Sports, which work with sports experts and a media advisory board of veteran prep sports journalists to determine the state winners in each sport.  

Tickets to Highsmith's induction into the Middletown Sports Hall of Fame, $50, are still available and may be purchased through Johanna Bond at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce by calling (860) 347-6924 or e-mailing johanna@middlesexchamber.com.

Have you seen Dario Highsmith in action on the field or remember his father's athletic prowess? Tell us what you think of his selection in the comments section below.
Edmond DiClemente December 07, 2013 at 12:03 PM
Dario is an outstanding athlete and his accomplishments and abilities are finally getting noticed. He is a generational type player that controls the outcome of each game. He is a multidimensional player that can beat you with his body and mind. He is exciting to watch! He is only getting better with his work ethic. Hopefully, top tier colleges will recognize his talent. But playing in CT is a tough hurdle to over come when D-1 schools look at the elite high schools in football states in the south and western parts of the country. Dario good luck and keep working to your potential.

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