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Brown Brothers Honor Their Dad

Feature article in 2012 All Star Program
by Dick Sparrer

Mike Brown spent many a year pacing the sidelines as a football coach in the Santa Clara Valley. His players would make up the varsity rosters at Andrew Hill, Oak Grove and Santa Teresa high schools after honing their fundamentals under the watchful eye of Mr. Brown and the rest of the coaches in the Oak Grove and Santa Teresa Youth Football organizations.

You see, Mike Brown was a very successful youth coach, but he never reached the high school level.

Well, he has now. Brown is on the staff as an Honorary Coach for the South team in the 38th annual Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Game, selected by his sons, South coaches Norm and Dan Brown.

He won't be there wearing a whistle and an all-star game cap and polo shirt, though Mr. Brown passed away on Feb. 20 of this year. But he'll be there in spirit supporting his boys, just he did for so many years.

It's a fitting tribute to a man who supported his children in so many ways during his lifetime through their years in youth football, as a coach and board member in the Spartan Little League and ABOY program, as a Little league and as the president of the Home and School Club at Edenvale Elementary School. And now his boys are returning the favor with this tribute for their dad.

Norm Brown, the varsity coach at Independence High School, is the head coach for the South and his brother Dan, though a coach on the North side at Wilcox during the regular season, has joined the South side to assist his brother in the all-star game. And the brothers are pleased that they have the opportunity to honor their father in this way.

"We're dedicating this to his legacy as a youth coach back in the day," said Dan, a former head coach at Del Mar, Willow Glen and Sobrato before taking on the head job at Wilcox. "Looking back, we're really lucky to have been [instructed] by our youth coaches."

Whatever Mike Brown and the other Oak Grove and Santa Teresa youth coaches did must have been effective, because those organizations turned out many outstanding football players during that period not the least of which were the Brown brothers.

It started with Drew, who played on a championship team at Oak Grove in the fall of 1979. Dan followed in the class of '81 and Norm in the class of '85. Dan and Norm would each go on to play college football and dedicate their professional lives to the game.

After a solid career at Oak Grove, Dan would go on to play at Cal State Hayward where he was his team's Most Valuable Player and won a place on the honorable mention list as a safety on the Kodak All-American team.

His eight interceptions as a senior left him nationally ranked and earned him a spot on the all-conference team. After a brief interest in attempting to make it at the next level, Dan decided to focus on his education and take up teaching and coaching as a career.

Norm was a powerhouse middle linebacker and was one of five Eagles from an outstanding Oak Grove team to win a place in the 11th annual All-Star Football Game played at Spartan Stadium. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder was the team captain for the South team that posted a 36-21 victory that summer.

He went on to play at San Jose City College, leading the Jaguars to the 1986 Junior College National Championship. He was the state's Most Valuable Defensive Player and the JC Bay Area Athlete of the Year. He participated in a bowl as a player at San Jose State University, played for four teams in the Arena Football League and played in NFL Europe, where he won a World Bowl championship ring as a member of the Frankfurt Galaxy.

Daniel set an impressive goal for himself this summer to honor his father and raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer he set out on a seven-day climb to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa.

"I hadn't done anything for cancer," he told a local newspaper. "I sat while others acted. So I decided it was time to do something to raise awareness of cancer."

Daniel and his two brothers each played in the summer all-star game that their father coached in twice.

Ray Goni, who first worked as a North assistant in 1974, was on the staff in 1995 when his son, Kyle, played in the North's defensive secondary. David (1997) and Daniel (1999) followed their older brother into the all-star game.

"Dad wanted to get the best out of everyone, especially me," said Daniel in a June 18 interview in the Saratoga News. "It could be tough coming home and reviewing films, but he told me that I was not the strongest or fastest but that I worked harder than anyone else. That always made me feel good.

I'm now coaching at Saratoga High because I want to be just like him," he added. "I wish he had been around longer so I could have learned more from him, but in those 18 years I'll never forget what he taught me and my brothers."

Daniel Goni is the linebackers coach on Lugo's North staff in the 38th annual all-star game. And like the Browns on the opposite side of the field, he will no doubt feel his father's presence when the teams kick off tonight.

There have been many father-son combinations who have participated in the summer all-star game over the years.

In 1992, Los Gatos High head coach Butch Cattolico selected his son, Joe, as his quarterback for the North squad.

"I thought that was probably the most fun I ever had in coaching," said Butch of the opportunity to coach his own son in the all-star classic. "It was an awful lot of fun, and even more enjoyable because it was an all-star game. There was not quite the pressure of a regular season game."

Cattolico never had the opportunity to coach his son in a regular season game. He coaches at Los Gatos and Joe was a star quarterback down the road at Leigh.

"It was the one opportunity in my life to actually play football for my dad," added Joe. "It was real exciting, and fun to do in an all-star game because it was a little less of a pressure situation."

The Cattolicos led the North to a 10-7 win over the South that summer.

Ken Padia of Leigh coached his son Kasey, a defensive lineman for the Longhorns, in the summer of 2001. Padia's younger son Kyle was a Leigh quarterback who played in the 1998 all-star game.

Gunderson's Fred Morales Sr. was the South coach in 2001, and his starting quarterback was his son Mike. Fred Morales Jr. had been an all-star quarterback in the summer of 1986.

Lee Evans, an all-star assistant many times, worked on the South coaching staff in 1989 when his son Brent of Oak Grove played quarterback for the squad. Tragically, Brent died in 2000.