After serving the last seven years as the voice of the Indian River Indians football team, game-announcer Brendan Warner has decided to step down.
“I’m 45 and I’m getting older now. And I don’t think I’ll have the same connection with the team,” Warner said. “I stayed on because I knew the Townsends because they were always over at my house,” he noted of twin Indians players Phil and Perry Townsend. “But I think it’s time to step down and let someone else have an opportunity.”
Over the last 12 years, Warner has coached and served in other capacities for half a dozen area sports teams, ranging from Little League baseball to keeping statistics for the Indian River football team. Finally, he settled on the announcing games on Friday nights, where he’s become a fan favorite.
Warner’s warm and humorous personality is amplified not only by the microphone he used but by a smooth delivery and an excellent knowledge of the game.
“I always try to make the game fun without being obnoxious,” Warner acknowledged. “For the fans that know me, I’m a light-hearted person. And I try to make people laugh and do it tastefully, and I think everyone can appreciate that.”
As a home-team announcer, Warner did all that was expected of a good announcer: he was thorough and made sure everyone got their “props,” as he likes to put it.
“For me, high school football is a community sport, and I always try to point that out in some way,” Warner said.
Warner tried to acknowledge everyone affiliated with Indian River football, from hyping the concession stands to issuing his patented “High school football wouldn’t be high school football without the band” statement at least once during the course of each game.
And, in addition to simply reading off the opposing team’s roster, he’d talk to their coaches before the game and find out which players he’d probably call off throughout the game, just to be ready.
“His energy level makes the game fun,” Indian River Principal Mark Steele said. “With Brendan, you don’t know what he’s going to say next, but he also stays very professional. He doesn’t put anyone down and is willing to go the extra mile. If the other team makes a good hit or good play, then he makes sure to call it that way.”
A rare skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa kept Warner from playing football himself in high school, so when his son Ryan became the Indians’ starting quarterback in 1999, he figured announcing the games would be the best way to be a part of the sport that he loves so much.
“I wasn’t allowed to play contact sports because I couldn’t pass the physical,” he said. “If I fell, then I’d bleed like a pig, and doing the announcing for Indian River was my way of being connected with the team.”
“I’m a football fanatic, and I’ve never had a whole lot of talent but I can talk,” he added.
His comfort level in the booth can be linked to a wealth of public speaking experience he’s had throughout the years.
For 13 years, Warner taught fifth-graders drug education through the DARE program. He has given numerous television and radio interviews through the Delaware State Police and even gave the commencement speech for Indian River’s graduation class of 1998.
Though Warner is stepping down from his perch above the field after this year’s football season, the recent prospect of Indian River possibly hosting a state tournament game has piqued his interest. He said that he’d love to call that game and then somewhat recanted on his resignation altogether.
“I e-mailed Paul [Kmetz] last week and told him that I’d like to finish out the season if Indian River was going to host a playoff game,” Warner said. “I’d always come back if they couldn’t find anyone else, though I’m sure whoever does it next will be fine.”
Warner loved playing his part for the Indian River Indians football team and noted a desire to get continue down the path in the public eye as a play-by-play announcer for the Delmarva Shorebirds or local sports radio.
“Hopefully, he’ll come back,” Steele said. “Because I don’t think we’ll fill his position too soon. It’ll be hard for anyone to fill his shoes. He’ll be hard to replace. But maybe we’ve spoke too soon.”