When he’s not eating at Village Trattoria in Summit, watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air on TV, rooting for the NY Giants, or hanging out with his friends, you’ll find Summit High School senior Dwaine Dabney on the football field.
The Hilltoppers’ star running back has scored a team-high 24 touchdowns (including 8 TDs in Summit’s last two games), and averages just over 10 yards per carry this season. Game after game, Dabney continues to expand upon his lead in the Union County top scorers race, now with 144 points. He is at the top of his game, at just the right time.
Though Dabney is a very big reason the Hilltoppers currently sit at 10-0 and have a great chance to win a state championship this year, he is modest about his accomplishments and continuously praises his teammates.
“Our team is really close, and we all work hard,” says Dabney. “We’ve got a bunch of seniors who have been playing together for a long time. We have something that other teams just don’t have. It’s fun playing together with all of my teammates.”
With 25 seniors, a state championship has been on the Hilltoppers’ minds for a while.
“(A state championship) would mean a lot; we’ve been waiting for this all year,” Dabney says. “For four years we’ve been playing together, hoping that we can get a state championship. That’s as good as it gets. We’ve been talking about this since the summer, so yeah, it would mean a lot.”
And so far, so good. The Hilltoppers are undefeated, having outscored their opponents by a jaw-dropping 469-114 this season (winning by an average of 36 points per game). Summit has scored fewer than 40 points in just one game.
“Every day before we come in the locker room, we all touch the board on the door that says Discipline,” notes Dabney. “Everyone touches it before they leave and when they come in.”
This discipline has been instilled in the Hilltoppers’ minds by their dedicated coaching staff, and in particular, by head coach John Liberato.
“It’s great (playing for Coach Liberato). He’s tough on us, but it’s great. He keeps us in our place,” Dabney jokingly adds with his big, contagious smile.
Even when asked about his greatest personal accomplishment on the field, Dabney continued to speak of his teammates and their combined effort.
“So far, it has been making it to the semifinals of the state last year,” says Dabney. “We fell short, but that was our greatest accomplishment, getting that far in the season. Hopefully we can make it to the championship this year.”
Dabney is a star on the field, but he’s also a star in his day-to-day life. He receives unconditional support everywhere he turns, which fuels his fire to succeed.
“My family, friends, and team support me both on and off the field,” says Dabney. “My whole family comes to every game, which is great.”
Summit's running back models his game after NFL running back Adrian Peterson because “he’s quick and strong; he’s a tough guy.” In this respect, Dwaine Dabney takes after his idol.
If you’ve attended a Summit football game this season, you’ve seen that Dabney possesses striking speed, agility, and strength for a high school athlete. This crafty running back has an uncanny ability to avoid tackles, anticipate plays, and weave through the opponent’s defense as if it was a maze that he himself created.
“I put in a lot of work in the weight room,” Dabney says. “Coach has us add a little more weight throughout the year. I step it up on squats to make my legs stronger so I can break some tackles. In the offseason I go to the track and work a lot on my speed.”
All of that work has certainly paid off, as several big-time Division-I schools have been knocking on Dabney’s door as of late.
“I plan on playing football in college, yeah, and take it as far as I can,” says Dabney. “I want to get my degree in college. Right now I’m speaking with Villanova, West Virginia, and (University of Connecticut). College is where you get all of your experience to build up to the next level, so I’m excited.“
When asked if he feels added pressure with scouts in the stands, he coolly replied, “Not at all, I just go out there and do what I do.”
You can watch Dabney and his fellow Hilltoppers “do what they do” at 1 p.m. as they take on the Madison Dodgers in the state semifinals. The game will be held at Metro Homes Field, Dwaine Dabney’s home away from home.