MERRILLVILLE | The day didn't start well for Aaron Dye, but it couldn't have ended any better.
The speedy Merrillville wide receiver was involved Friday morning in a car accident near the Speedway on 61st Avenue that left his family's Ford Taurus totaled, but Dye uninjured.
In the Class 5A Sectional 1 championship, he caught four first-half passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns in the Pirates' 24-14 victory over Crown Point.
"It's a blessing," Dye said. "My mama prayed over me. I was OK. There's nothing better. Our class had never won a sectional. It's like the monkey is off our back."
Dye got behind the Crown Point secondary for TD receptions of 31 and 34 yards to put Merrillville in front 17-0.
"That kind of athleticism isn't found too much in high school," Merrillville quarterback Jake Raspopovich said. "He makes throws easy for me. He breaks wide open and all I have to do is lob it up to him. He's such a great playmaker."
The stats bear it out. Dye is around the 1,200-yard mark for the season, having obliterated the season record for receiving yards.
"He's definitely a safety blanket for us," Merrillville coach Zac Wells said. "We missed him a couple times early on or he could've had a couple more. He also runs underneath, inside (routes). He just sticks his hands out and gets drilled. He doesn't care. He sacrifices his body for the team. We're really lucky to have him."
Back in the summer, Dye spent hours and hours with Raspopovich, working on routes. This week, they spent time on the deep patterns that resulted in his touchdowns.
"It's all about matchups," Dye said. "It's not really about me. Sometimes, I'm covered and it's the other guys. I've got to give it to my line, too. I'll have to take them out to dinner or something. We all worked so hard to get here."
Dye wasn't the only receiving star on the Demaree Stadium field. Crown Point's Zach Plesac hauled in 12 passes for 151 yards and both Bulldogs touchdowns. He also completed a pass off a reverse.
"He's a strong, physical guy," Dye said. "I see him in baseball, too. He's a great competitor. He's out there fighting for every yard."
Honesty compels me to report that we didn't have Dye nor Plesac on our pre-season all-area team. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we get it wrong. Embarrassingly wrong.
Suffice it to say, both will be in the postseason selections. And for Dye and the Pirates, it's at least one more week of football.
Just be careful behind the wheel.
This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.