Redbank Valley brothers motivated by rivalry
Keaton Delp is forever driven to one-up his older brother, Caleb.
The activity doesn’t matter; he wants the bragging rites.
And he has the scars to prove it.
The Delp brothers, stars for Redbank Valley’s football team, were riding dirt bikes on jumps a few years ago. Keaton, 15 months younger than Caleb, rolled his bike off the jump slower each time, just to add more drama and flair.
Keaton eventually found himself on the wrong end of a physics experiment. His bike landed square and heavy on the ground. Keaton fell off, and the bike landed on him.
Caleb watched as a boy tried to lift the bike off Keaton only to drop it back on him. By the time the older brother arrived, half the skin on the younger brother’s shirtless back had been scorched by the bike’s engine.
“And the first thing Caleb (says) when he comes up,” Keaton said, recounting the tale, “instead of being like, ‘Hey, are you all right?’ and he comes up like, ‘I knew you were gonna try showboating it. That’s what you get.’ ”
Keaton and Caleb Delp care about each other’s well-being. But they aren’t oblivious to the other’s accomplishments. In fact, they are acutely aware, and they strive to edge one another in anything that might qualify as a contest.
Redbank Valley (5-5), the No. 2 seed in District 9’s Class AA playoffs, has reaped the rewards of their brotherly competition this fall. At least one Delp brother has scored a touchdown in every game but one — the Bulldogs were shut out that week.
Caleb, a senior running back/linebacker, leads the team in rushing yards, touchdowns and tackles. Keaton, a junior wideout/linebacker, leads the team in receiving yards and is second in touchdowns and tackles.
Watching a brother score on Friday night causes mixed feelings, Caleb said. On the upside, Redbank Valley inches closer to a win. On the downside, Keaton’s touchdown total increases.
Keaton said the same thought goes through his head when Caleb crosses the goal line.
A bit of brotherly pride exists, but it generally remains deep inside each Delp.
“I think we try to hide it from each other,” Keaton said. “I think we like that we both do really good. But then again, we don’t just come out and say, ‘Hey, you’re doing awesome,’ because we’re still brothers. We’re always competing.
“If he scores three touchdowns, he rubs it in a little bit. But if I score two or three and have a whole bunch of yards, I try to find Caleb just to rub it in.”
Though they take turns as the statistical superior, Caleb has a decisive edge in terms of leadership responsibility. Coach Frank Fabian said the senior is the undisputed leader of the defense and a key morale booster, a reality that doesn’t escape Caleb.
“I try not to show whenever I feel down,” Caleb said. “The team definitely vibes off of me. They’ll look at me if something bad happens.”
Caleb’s age gives him the edge over Keaton in leadership. And his size (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) provides him with a physical advantage over his younger brother (5-9, 160).
But Keaton has made no effort to shy away from tussles.
This season’s training camp served as an ideal setting for a Delp brother showdown.
On the second day of camp, Fabian said, the Bulldogs had an Oklahoma drill tournament — the drill squared two players, one a ball carrier and the other a tackler, against each other in a confined space. Caleb and Keaton met in the semifinals, and the showdown was named the “Delp Bowl.”
“As they were going to the ground, Keaton, to say the least, wasn’t a happy camper,” Fabian said of the drill, which Caleb won. “So, we had some coaches in there peeling them off one another. Five minutes later, practice was over, and they’re walking off the field together.”
Caleb didn’t allow his younger brother to win that day, just as he didn’t let Keaton slide the day of the dirt bike accident. But now and then, the older brother will grant his sibling a minor victory, as was the case Tuesday during their interview.
“He’s impressed me this year,” Caleb said. “I didn’t expect it, at all. I guess it’s just the fire inside us. We just want to win.”