STUDENT ATHLETES: Platt’s Salas Earns National Football Foundation Recognition From New Haven Chapter
MERIDEN – Andres Salas’ trophy continues to fill for his prowess on and off the football pitch.
The 17-year-old Platt eldest, who is usually just called “Salas” among friends and teammates, enjoyed an All-State season in 2021 as an offensive and defensive lineman for the Panthers. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound was also named All-Record-Journal and RJ Scholar-Athlete.
With his cumulative grade point average of 4.25, Salas continues to do well. He was just shortlisted for the National High School Scholar-Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation by the New Haven County Chapter.
Salas was alerted by email last month and will be honored at a banquet later this month at the Aqua Turf Club with Maloney’s Jack Fitzgerald, who was selected by the Northern Connecticut Chapter.
National Football Foundation Athlete Scholars are chosen for their work on the field, in the classroom and in the community. Platt’s football coach Jason Bruenn said Salas was one of many Panthers to receive the honor over the years. Bruenn himself was a selection during his playing days.
“There was a long line of smart Panthers who got this award long before I got it,” Bruenn said. “It’s a great honor. Your name is inscribed in a College Football Hall of Fame booth (in Atlanta) and New Haven County is one of the largest (NFF) chapters in the nation.
Bruenn said Salas had an outstanding career and led by example.
“He’s calm,” Bruenn said. “He was one of those guys who would do whatever you wanted him to do in the classroom and on the pitch. He’s an ideal kid that you want to coach. If you ask him to play somewhere, he just comes does it and does it hard.
Salas also joined Platt’s outdoor track team as a junior and will compete again this spring as a pitcher. Platt’s pitching coach George Gilhuly said Salas was a quiet leader.
“It’s a joy to be a coach because last year was his first year in athletics. Now this year he’s a leader here,” Gilhuly said. “He teaches the children to shoot and discus. The way he teaches, my children are ahead thanks to him. He’s like another coach here.
“He does it quietly; he shows them how he does it,” Gilhuly added. “If they do it wrong, he shows them again. I have 15 new children, including five from last year, and I need help. It does a great job for me and I couldn’t be happier.
Many of Salas’ enemies in the line of scrimmage also needed help. Bruenn said his lineman was a force in the trenches. He recorded 39 tackles on defense and, at left tackle, blocked for an offense averaging 317 yards per game.
“He was dominant,” Bruenn said. “He’s a guy who can control his area both offensively and defensively.”
Salas has been playing football since second year and came through the Meriden Raiders. His parents are Liana and Roberto and his older brother, Roberto Jr., was also a former All-State running back at Platt.
Andres Salas will continue at UConn, where he will study nursing, a field in which he will follow his mother and aunt.
Salas, who is ranked No. 22 in the Platt Class of 2022, became interested in the field of nursing after being diagnosed with rheumatic fever while in seventh grade.
“I got really sick with rheumatic fever and it affected my joints,” Salas said. “I saw how doctors were helping me, and my mum and aunt are also in the medical field. I knew that was what I wanted to do.”
Salas said he was proud to be honored for his achievements on and off the pitch.
“It shows that hard work pays off,” Salas said. “I accomplished what I wanted to do. I am happy to have been chosen. Maintaining my GPA was difficult. Right after practice, I went straight to the books and did my job.