BY SCOTT HUNT – firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior years like the one Andreas ‘Dre’ Aguilar just experienced are the stuff that young athletes dream about.
Aguilar led one of the state’s top defensive units to a North Central Conference championship and into the Class 4A final four in football, earning first team All-NCC honors and first team All-State from both the Indiana Football Coaches Association and Associated Press.
He was the backbone and enforcer in the paint for a Giants basketball team that also won the NCC and was one of the final four 3A teams standing at the end of the season. Aguilar was a second team All-NCC performer on the hardwood.
Aguilar then hit .265 and provided standout defense from his position in right field as Marion put together its best baseball season in two decades, with 16 wins and an 8-2 regular season NCC record. The Giants also won their first tournament game since 2008 and in fact won two to get to a sectional championship for the first time since 1998.
For his efforts in helping three Marion teams excel, Aguilar was named the NCC’s Male Athlete of the Year, and now he is the Chronicle-Tribune’s 2018-19 Grant County Athlete of the Year.
Even with all that Aguilar and each of his teams accomplished, when asked to reflect on the year, he said something was definitely missing.
“One thing that sticks in the back of my head is just that what if, what if, what if?,” Aguilar said Thursday evening. “That’s just the thing I can’t shake.”
All his work in the weight room, his film study and effort in practice were for just one thing, to help the Giants win. And his performance led to many wins during the 2018-19 season.
But the what ifs. Aguilar still shoulders the disappointment from being so close to competing for a state championship — twice — yet each time coming up short in semistates.
Despite missing three games with a knee injury in football season, Aguilar recorded 51 tackles including a team-leading 12 for loss while also recording a team-high 11 quarterback sacks.
The Giants entered the fourth quarter in the 4A Southern Semistate at Evansville Central tied at 14-all with the Bears. Aguilar had six tackles and a pair of sacks in the contest but Central used a safety and two big scoring plays in the final 10 minutes to escape with a 30-14 win.
The knee injury Aguilar endured in football season also forced him to miss four basketball games early in the season, but his return against Anderson on January 15 helped the Giants finish the season by winning 13 of their final 16 games.
But again, a two-point game in the fourth quarter against defending 3A champion Culver Academies ended with the Giants going scoreless over the final few minutes and a 57-44 loss to end his basketball career.
“It is definitely a great thing to think about. I look back and reminisce a lot,” Aguilar stated about his bittersweet senior year. “But my friends always tell me you can’t dwell on the past, you’ve just got to continue and make a new future. That’s all I really sit back and think about.”
While Aguilar’s roles on the court or fields were different in each season, in each of the Giants’ locker rooms his presence was always the same. There he was a leader.
“Everyone wants to talk about Dre Aguilar and what he did on the football field and basketball court and that’s all great, but he’s even a better person and a better leader and thats what he brought to our defense,” said Brian Burke, Marion’s defensive coordinator. “We had a great group of guys on defense, but Dre is just one of those that kids want to play with and want to rally around. He has that ‘it’ factor. Just a great young man.
“He didn’t lead by talking, he led by doing, which is the type of leadership I prefer,” Burke added. “He modeled behavior and modeled what we expect from our kids. He didn’t have to do a lot of talking but he had instant respect from all of his teammates every time he stepped on the field.”
Aguilar averaged just over six points and six rebounds per game, but his role for the Giants basketball team was also one of leadership and toughness. Aguilar scored just three points against 3A No. 1 Delta in the regional championship, but his 11 rebounds, four steals and tough interior defense was instrumental in handing the Eagles their first loss of the season and propelling the Giants into the final four.
“The mental toughness, the example he set on and off the court,” said James Blackmon, Marion’s basketball coach of Aguilar. “He gave 100 percent every single game and he brought that mental toughness to our team.
“It helped when you’ve got a young team and you’ve got seniors setting the example,” Blackmon added. “Our young guys really looked up to him.”
Aguilar appeared in 20 of the Giants’ 30 baseball games and started all three of the sectional contests. His diving catch along the right field line in the fifth inning against Norwell preserved a shutout and helped propel Marion to its first sectional win since 2008.
“He was one that would never complain about anything,” first-year Marion baseball coach Mark Fagan said. “If he was in the lineup he was fine with it, if he wasn’t in the lineup he was good. That’s a big part, especially when you’re trying to keep 15 kids happy. For him to come into the dugout everyday and be positive, whether he was going to play or not, that was a big help for us.”
Aguilar’s next phase of life will soon begin as he takes his talent on the football field to the University of Indianapolis. On the field he’s got pretty a pretty simple goal.
“I want to find a spot as soon as possible. I want to get a spot and be secured,” Aguilar said. “I just want to do what I can to support the team.
“I want to continue want to their winning legacy and build upon that and hopefully get a championship,” he continued. “That’s the ultimate goal, at least in my opinion.”
While he has dreams of playing beyond college, first and foremost earning a degree in engineering will be Aguilar’s top priority. He’s still unsure what type of engineering he wants to study, but is leaning toward either mechanical or electrical.
“I know mechanical you have to get down and get your hands dirty and I’m that type of person,” he said. “I am more of hands on, but then I do enjoy all of the technological advances in the world. I feel like the electrical base would interesting too to see what development is to come.
“The idea of being able to create something and using your imagination to impact the world. I feel like that’s what we remain on this Earth to do,” Aguilar added.
When asked what the he’ll take away most from his senior year, Aguilar’s answer wasn’t all that suprising.
“Just the relationships I had with the teams,” he said. “We all bonded in a unique way and I feel like without that chemistry, you know, we wouldn’t have been able to get as far.
“It sucks we didn’t make it all the way but it is memories that last forever.”