Spartans to enshrine year’s football Hall of Famers
Keely Bramer, Keith Delk, Mark Rojas, and Duke Crawford make up this year’s class of Hall of Fame inductees
STRATHMORE – The 4th annual Strathmore Spartan Football Hall of Fame dinner is ready to enshrine the class of 2018. There will be four inductees this year, Keeley Bramer, Keith Delk, Mark Rojas, and Duke Crawford. The dinner is scheduled for Saturday, May 26 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Orange Blossom Ranch.
The second of the “Bookend Bramers,” Keeley Bramer, is being inducted into the Strathmore Football Hall of Fame. A three-year varsity starter from 1974 to 1976, Bramer rumbled into Spartan Stadium as a fullback. That was until starting right tackle Phil Howden went down with a season-ending injury. Having played along the line at the junior varsity level the year prior, Bramer filled the void for the rest of the season. At the other tackle position was his older brother, Brant Bramer. Both anchored the edges of the defensive line well.
Keeley Bramer remained along the line for the next two seasons raking up his fair share of accolades. He was named to all-league teams for both offense and defensive sides of the ball. In his senior year, he was named the league’s most valuable lineman.
Bramer rejoined his brother along the line for College of the Sequoias as a center. He helped the Giants win back-to-back Central Valley Conference Championships in the 1977 and 1978 seasons. After that, he finished his playing career by suiting up for Bob Padilla and Jim Sweeney at Fresno State.
What would be a Spartan Football Hall of Fame class without a running back? The 2018 class features one of the most prolific in the program’s history, Keith Delk. Over Delk’s three years from 2004 to 2006, he rewrote the record books with his senior season being the most memorable. He rushed for 1,852 yards, setting the single season record at the time. That mark was the first in a perpetual series of 1,000-yard running backs which has lasted to this past season.
Rather than wishing he was the best, Delk worked at it. After his sophomore season, he devoted countless hours to leg workouts. He gained girth and explosion because of it. In his junior year, he consistently carried the ball. While the Spartans came up with a 5-5 season, he was named both team and league most valuable player.
Considered to be one of the best Spartan linebackers of the modern era, Mark Rojas will be enshrined in Strathmore lore. With a chip on his shoulder, Rojas had a nose for the ball. While he appeared to be just a normal high school football player, his play was unparalleled to anyone who lined up beside him. That, in turn, reversed the roles throughout his career. Rather than game planning for opposing offenses, they had to focus on stopping him. He was so dominant early on, he was awarded the league’s sophomore of the year award.
His uncanny ability stems from an upbringing which demanded success. Born to Mexican immigrant parents, they moved to Strathmore to be closer to family. The Rojas’ household held three values above all others: sports, school, and life, in that order. With those attributes wedged between his ears since his early upbringing, his competitive drive began to take shape.
Rojas had been strictly a baseball player up until the sixth grade when he made weight to join the Strathmore Knights’ Pop Warner team. While he was bigger than the other kids, he continued to work hard to make the weekly weight limits. By his seventh grade year, he had been moved to fullback and middle linebacker. It was those two spots that led him to a successful career.
The first Valley Championship-winning quarterback, Duke Crawford, rounds out this year’s Hall of Fame class. A three-year varsity starter, his crowning moment came during his senior season in 1992. After losing the first four games of the season, a turning point during that season was when former Strathmore head coach Rick Anderson came out of retirement. His takeover of the offensive line allowed then-head coach Dave McDaniels to spend more time with his signal caller. In fact, Coach McDaniels eventually gave him the reins.
“I would come up to the line with usually six to ten plays I could audible to,” Crawford said. “With that freedom and our offensive line and offensive weapons, there wasn’t a defensive set the opponent could put in front of us that we couldn’t beat.”
Playing behind an offensive line — a line often described as large, aggressive, and violent — Crawford was rarely knocked down. He was rarely sacked. While Strathmore was still a running team, Crawford had skilled players at tight end and wide receiver. All Crawford had to do was point them in the right direction and get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.