Football: Aaron Dye’s physical tools, connection with Merrillville QB lead to record year
By Dave Melton Post-Tribune correspondent November 6, 2012 11:18PM
Merrillville's Aaron Dye tries hold onto a pass while being wrapped up by Chesterton's Kevin Webb in the fourth quarter Friday night at Chesterton High School. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:40AM
MERRILLVILLE — Name a trait necessary to construct a well-rounded wide receiver, and you’ll find it in Merrillville senior Aaron Dye.
“There are some plays where we may look at Aaron first because he has an advantage over guys with his speed and his moves,” said Merrillville quarterback Jake Raspopovich. “You don’t find that too much in high school.”
“People talk about his speed, but he’s got genuinely incredible hands,” said Merrillville head coach Zac Wells. “He’ll go over the middle, go deep or go out to the sidelines and dive with one hand; whatever he has to do to secure the catch.”
Add those physical tools in with a nearly-telepathic connection with his quarterback and it’s easy to see why Dye and Raspopovich are breaking records in 2012.
“We’re very professional,” Dye said of his relationship with Raspopovich. “We’re starting to see things the same. We might see a safety cheat over or we’ll notice the way a cornerback is leaning. He’ll give me a look or a nod and I’ll just know.”
This season, Dye has 54 catches for 1,122 yards — both school records — and 14 touchdowns. Those gaudy numbers are the result of a long football link between quarterback and wide receiver that dates back to their days on the Pirates’ freshman squad.
In the first game of that season three years ago, Dye hauled in a long pass from Raspopovich for the first receiving touchdown of his career.
Two years later, as juniors, Raspopovich again hit Dye for a TD pass against powerhouse Warren Central for his first six points on the varsity level.
“He was one of the inside receivers,” Raspopovich recalled, “gave a little fake and I hit him with about a 40-yard pass. That’s when people started recognizing that we had a connection.”
That connection was developed in the months before that junior season began.
Said Raspopovich: “In the summer, there’d be no one else here, and we’d just be throwing one-on-one routes.”
Dye added: “It didn’t matter if it was blazing hot or raining. We were here, getting in that little bit of timing that pays off in a game.”
The Pirates’ offense has averaged almost 40 points per game in 2012, and hasn’t scored less than 24 points since a week one loss to Warren Central. While the Raspopovich-to-Dye combination has been a vital aspect, both players were quick to point out that they aren’t alone.
“All of our receivers are phenomenal,” said Raspopovich, citing names like Cleveland Lomax and Brian Jenkins.
Added Wells: “That’s been one of our benefits this year, that Aaron isn’t our only weapon. He’s one guy we’ve had that can stretch the defense and open things up underneath for some other guys.”
On Friday night, Dye and the rest of the Pirates will host Carroll in a Class 5A regional. It’s the third straight home game for Merrillville, but likely the final contest at Demaree Stadium for Dye and the rest of the seniors.
“There’s going to be a lot of emotions while I’m playing in this game,” said Dye. “It’s a dream; a blessing. It doesn’t get any better than this. When we started this season, we knew we had some talent. It’s all been building up to this. Now, we’ve got a chance.”