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Player remembered at ceremony

September 04, 2000

Player remembered at ceremony



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


"Gone but not forgotten" was the feeling emanating throughout the opening ceremony of the Washington County Junior Football League Monday morning.

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Football players, coaches, cheerleaders, friends and family gathered at the football field at Martin L. Snook Park to honor a member of the Hagerstown Steelers who was killed in a car accident in Poolesville, Md., August 19.

Brandon Michael Shrader, 14, who wore jersey No. 35 and played fullback for the Steelers, had his number retired by the league before the crowd of more than 2,000 people.

Brandon was visiting friends in upper Montgomery County and was returning to their home with them when their vehicle was hit from behind while turning into a driveway. The car was propelled into a large oak tree, according to police reports.

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"God must have needed a fullback in his backfield, and Brandon met the requirements to get there," said Don Davis, the league's director.

Brandon's former teammates took to the field first and knelt behind his family followed by the rest of the league, while Brandon's black and gold framed Steeler jerseys were given to his parents, Edward Schrader and Andrea Gore of Hagerstown.

The crowd remained quiet, except for the frequent sobs from loved ones and from those who didn't know Brandon but who were saddened by his death. George Strait's "The Best Day of My Life," which tells the story of a son's admiration for his father, played in the background.

Brandon would have been an eighth-grader this fall at Northern Middle School. He had an older brother Chris, younger sister, Brittni and late brother, Edward.

"Brandon was pride, Brandon was tradition, but most of all, No. 35 Brandon Michael Shrader was and will forever be family of the Hagerstown Steelers football team," Davis said.

A fund has been set up in his name at Home Federal Savings bank. Members of the Steelers will wear a No. 35 on their helmets in honor of Brandon.

Those who knew Brandon said he excelled at football, loved to play video games, skate, ride BMX bikes, watch professional wrestling and had a bright smile and positive attitude that could cheer up anyone near him.

His friend, Rob Link, created a web site - www.realmcity.com/brandon - in memory of Brandon. Many of the site's visitors have left messages, which recount moments they've spent with Brandon and other memories.

"I know that you are in heaven now, and make sure you keep the door open," wrote his older brother, Chris. "We will be together as a family once again one day. I can't wait to see that big smile and get that great big hug from you."

"On Aug. 19 of the year 2000, my best friend was taken at age 14," wrote Eddie Garvin. "... He was buried on the 22nd of August, my birthday. Usually birthdays are fun, but this one was empty and sad without him here. Burying my best friend on my birthday was very hard, but now he is in a better place. My sadness and grief are eased knowing that now my best friend is my guardian angel."

"Brandon, I coached a lot of kids over the years, but not many that had your heart and desire," wrote his coach, Randy Hart. "I miss you, and I will always remember you. The only thing I can say is that God needed a fullback in heaven and maybe someday he will need a good coach."

In closing remarks, Davis characterized Brandon's yearning to win football games by playing the words of ring announcer Michael Buffer, "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" over the intercom.

"Those of you who knew Brandon knew that come game day, he was ready to get it on," Davis said.

"You're gone, but not forgotten," he said. "Your memory will forever be etched in our hearts."

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