New England Gatorade Football Players of the Year

Connecticut - Dario Highsmith, Jr. QB, Middletown

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, scheduled for 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. On defense, the 2012 Central Connecticut Conference Division II West First Team honoree had recorded 39 tackles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery.

Highsmith has maintained a B average in the classroom. He has 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.”

Maine - Ben Lucas, Sr. QB, Cony

Lucas is the first Gatorade Maine Football Player of the Year to be chosen from Cony High School. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior quarterback led the Rams to a 9-2 record and the Class B state championship this past season. Lucas passed for 3,357 yards and a state-record 41 touchdowns, completing 225-of-373 attempts, including 347 yards and three TDs in a 30-23 win over Kennebunk High in the state final. The Class B East Player of the Year, he concluded his prep football career with 7,575 passing yards and a state-record 89 touchdowns.

Lucas has maintained a B-plus average in the classroom. A member of the Cony High Spanish Club, he has volunteered locally as a youth football coach and with the Augusta Little League.

“Ben Lucas is as fine a quarterback as I’ve seen in the state’s history,” said Dan Cooper, head coach of Brunswick High. “His ability to stand tall in the pocket and throw the ball is simply amazing, almost indefensible. The confidence that he brings to that team makes them go.”

Lucas remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

New Hampshire - Trevor Knight, Sr. QB, Nashua South

The 6-foot-1, 182-pound senior quarterback and defensive back passed for 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns this past season, completing 116-of-202 attempts against just two interceptions while leading the Panthers (9-2) to the Division I state quarterfinals. Knight also rushed for 1,553 yards and 19 scores on 166 carries. On defense, the 2012 First Team All-State selection recorded 36 tackles and four interceptions.

Knight has maintained a weighted 3.74 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally as an altar boy at his church and as a youth quarterback mentor. He’s also donated his time to the Front Door Agency, which provides housing and assistance to families in need.

“South was a threat to score on every play as Trevor could beat you through the air or running,” said Kevin Fitzgerald, head coach of Timberlane High. “He is especially good at making something out of nothing. He was the best player on the field week in and week out.”

Knight has verbally committed to play football on an athletic scholarship at the University of New Hampshire beginning in the fall of 2014.

Rhode Island - Matt Sewall, Sr. QB, Portsmouth

The 5-foot-9, 160-pound senior quarterback and safety rushed for 1,859 yards and 23 touchdowns on 227 carries this past season, leading the Patriots (9-3) to the Division I state semifinals. Sewall also threw for 735 yards and three scores on 53-of-101 passing. A 2012 Providence Journal Second Team All-State selection, he recorded 69 tackles, three forced fumbles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense.

Sewall has maintained a 3.35 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered on behalf of multiple area-beautification projects in addition to donating his time as a youth basketball coach and as part of multiple community service initiatives in association with his church youth group.

“Matt Sewall this year has been a human highlight film,” said Geoff Marcone, head coach of La Salle Academy. “He has great speed and once he is in the open field, no one is catching him. Every time he touches the ball something big could happen.”

Sewall remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

Vermont - Tanner Contois, Sr. RB, South Burlington

The 5-foot-11, 165-pound senior running back rushed for 2,361 yards and 22 touchdowns on 199 carries this past season, leading the Rebels (10-3) to the Division I state championship game. A 2012 First Team All-State selection, Contois also caught 21 passes for 563 yards and five touchdowns.

Contois has maintained a 3.81 GPA in the classroom. He has volunteered locally on behalf of multiple fundraiser walks to benefit ALS and breast cancer research and has served as a student-athlete representative on the Concussion Task Force in association with the Vermont Department of Education.

“Tanner Contois was by far the best running back that we played against all year,” said Marty Richards, head coach at Mount Mansfield High. “There were numerous times when we had him bottled up and he would somehow scamper free for 50-plus yards. He has great balance and strong legs which constantly move.”

Contois remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.