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Feature article in 2016 All Star Program
by Dick Sparrer

Father's Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, and it has been every year since President Lyndon Johnson signed a proclamation in 1966 to make it official.

But for just about a hundred proud dads, they have another special day coming up on the third Saturday of July this year. That's the day their sons will play in the 42nd annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic, better known as the Charlie Wedemeyer All-Star High School Football Game.

And for a couple of those dads, that will be an extra special day indeed. When the North and South all-stars kick off at 6 p.m. on July 16 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, John Faylor and John Hendy will be watching their sons—Vinny Faylor of Saratoga High and Jordan Hendy of Fremont — take part in the same game they once played in.

For the Faylor and Hendy fathers, though, their connection goes much deeper than that of just two grinning dads who will be sitting in the Saturday night crowd at Levi's. They actually have quite a lot in common.

They were teammates in the 1981 All-Star Classic, both playing in the secondary for the North squad. They each went on to star at the collegiate level — Faylor at Santa Clara University and Hendy at Long Beach State — and they both played in the NFL — Faylor for the San Francisco 49ers and Hendy for the San Diego Chargers.

Now the two will return to watch their sons play in the game that meant so much to them some 35 years ago.

"This was a big deal for us back then," said Faylor. "I just loved to play so much, and I was so fired up. It was a blast."

It was a big night for Hendy, too.

"It was one of the best experiences I ever had — from the dinner, to the practices, to the game," said Hendy in a 2013 interview. "My mother still has my all-star jersey."

Faylor still has his jersey, too, and it's become part of a pretty impressive collection.

You see, Faylor doesn't have just one son who has followed in his path to the all-star game — he has three.

Along with Vinny, both Mitchell and Grant Faylor were all-stars as well. And for John to watch his third son get the all-star experience? "It will be special," he said.

This will actually be the fifth trip to the all-star game in a role more than that of a spectator for John Faylor. In addition to three trips as an all-star dad and one as a player, he also served as an assistant to Saratoga's Tim Lugo on the North coaching staff in 2012.

Faylor is looking forward to see what his youngest son can accomplish at this level of competition.

"I'm excited to see what he can do in the all-star game," he said of Vinny, a two-time all-league first team wide receiver in the De Anza Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League for Saratoga. "Most of his best games over the past couple of years came in the big games."

Hendy, no doubt, could say the same thing about his son Jordan, a two-time all-league first team pick in the SCVAL's El Camino Division for the Firebirds.

To say that Vinny and Jordan are each a chip off the ol' block would seem a bit of an understatement, given the NFL pedigree shared by the two fathers. They do, though, share high school level achievements. John Faylor and John Hendy each rode all-league honors into the summer all-star game.

Their football roots run even deeper than that, though. Both played Pop Warner football in Santa Clara before taking their talents to the high school field - Hendy at Wilcox and Faylor at Archbishop Mitty.

Faylor starred in both football — as a two-way starter at quarterback and safety — and basketball at Mitty, and was one of just a select few to play in both the football and basketball all-star games in the summer of 1981. Two others — Jacque Robinson of San Jose High and Rich Campbell of Santa Teresa — also played in both games and each went on to football stardom after playing for the South all-stars in the summer game — Robinson at the University of Washington, where he was the Rose Bowl MVP as a freshman, and Campbell at UC-Berkeley and later with the Green Bay Packers.

"I really loved basketball," said Faylor, who was raised in Indiana where hoops are king, "but my dream from the time I was young was to play professional football.

Faylor, the West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year in 1980 and a two-time Athlete of the Year at Mitty, went on to play college football at Santa Clara U.

Before bidding farewell to the high school ranks and joining the Broncos, though, he had one more game left to play.

"I wanted to play at a high level in that all-star game, and I did," said Faylor. He recalls getting in on "a lot of tackles," including one on the South punter "to get us the ball back and give us a chance to win."

The North didn't win. They suffered a tough 5-0 loss to a South team that featured Robinson and future Major League baseball player Ken Caminiti.

"We had a helluva defense," said Faylor of the North D that allowed just a field goal while the offense gave up a safety. "My highlight of that game: I hit Jacque Robinson so hard ... I mean, I pasted him. And he was a beast."

Faylor turned out to be a bit of beast himself as a strong safety at Santa Clara. He won all-Western Football Conference honors in 1985.

"Pat Malley came to my house and gave me a full ride," said Faylor of the late Santa Clara coaching legend. "His big line was that SC stood for style and class. He was a great man, and his vision was to create great men."

Faylor won many awards while playing for the Broncos — including the Most Inspirational Player award for three straight seasons — but one he's most proud of is the Pat Malley Award he won as a senior ... a year after his coach had passed away.

Faylor had hoped to be selected in the NFL draft following his days at Santa Clara, but it wasn't to be.

"I was a hitter, and I had a knack for being around the football," he said. "I worked out for a bunch of teams — the Raiders, Falcons, 49ers."

Ultimately, he signed as a free agent and went to camp with the Niners in 1986, but he was released just before the start of the regular season. A year later, though, San Francisco called him back during the 1987 player strike.

"I was working in sales for a software company in LA and I had 10 days to get in shape," he said. "They flew me in, I worked out with a bunch of guys and I signed a contract to play for the 49ers."

The strike lasted just 24 days and was called off after Week 2. Games were cancelled in Week 3, and the regular season started up again on the first weekend of October.

"They released 28 players right away, but I got to stay on," said Faylor. So with the likes of Joe Montana, Dwight Clark, Ronnie Lott and the others back on the field, Faylor took the trip East with the Niners to face the New York Giants.

"My first game was on Monday Night Football in the Meadowlands," he said. "It was awesome. I remember the opening kickoff of that game. I came down the field, zeroed in on the guy with the ball and I ended up breaking his leg. He was laying there and I remember saying, 'It's going to be OK ... you're going to get paid for the rest of the year.' "

The "rest of the year" lasted just two more games for Faylor, who saw action in only three games for the Niners that season.

But despite his limited playing time, "these guys still treat me like I played 12 years," said Faylor, who just a few years ago attended a defensive backs reunion in Texas hosted by Jeff Fuller, a club veteran who played in three Super Bowls for the 49ers. "Even though my career was short, I feel like I was really part of something."

It was just over 20 years later when Faylor would feel like he was part of something again, football speaking. He joined the coaching ranks at Saratoga High when his oldest son Mitchell, who had not been too interested in sports as a youngster, decided to go out for football as a freshman.

"He broke his leg [as a senior] but ended up making a huge comeback to play in the [2012] all-star game," said the Faylor dad. "That was exciting to see him play that one last game."

Mitchell, an all-league defensive end for Falcons, was followed to the field by Grant, a two-time all-league wide receiver who would catch a touchdown pass in the Wedemeyer all-star game in 2014.

This summer it's Vinny's turn.

"All three boys were a little bit different," said Lugo, who coached them all at Saratoga.

"Mitchell was a defensive lineman, and he's the sweetest kid you'll ever meet," said Lugo of the oldest of the Faylor boys. "He was injured in the middle of his senior year, and that really hurt our football team. We realized his worth when he was no longer there — he was playing great when he got hurt."

For that reason, Lugo decided to reward him with a spot on the North squad the next summer, "and he played well in the all-star game," said the coach.

Just a couple of years later Lugo had a second Faylor joining the "Red Pride" when Grant joined the Saratoga varsity.

"Grant was special," said Lugo. "He had more than 120 career catches at Saratoga. He ran the best routes of any player I've ever coached — that's what separated him from the other guys in our league."

"Vinny picked up a lot of [Grant's] traits — those guys put up some pretty big numbers in our offense," said Lugo of the two younger Faylors. "They had more than 300 catches between them."

"What Vinny added was top end speed," added Lugo. "And he turned out to be a great leader."

And as good as the Faylor boys were for the Falcons, their dad also played an important role at Saratoga High.

"John was just awesome for us," said Lugo of Faylor, his assistant coach for eight seasons. "He starred at Mitty and Santa Clara University, and he would talk about playing in the NFL. He was just a great leader and mentor to young men. He would bring life insight to the kids."

Along with the three boys — Mitchell, 22, Grant, 20, and Vinny, 18 — Faylor has a 24-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, who played soccer and field hockey at Mitty, and he and his wife of 10 years, Meg, have a 5-year-old daughter, Jordyn.

So Father's Day is clearly a big day in the Faylor household. But in addition to the third Sunday in June, this year the third Saturday in July will be a big day for the family. It's the day when John Faylor — and John Hendy, as well — will watch his son play in the same game that ultimately proved his springboard to the NFL.

While it may be unusual to find three brothers earning all-star status, the Faylor boys are not the first sibling trio to participate in the summer classic. In fact, they're not even the first trio from Saratoga High School.

The Heinrich boys (Mike, Kyle and Kurt), the Worman brothers (Larry, Steve and Rick) and the Goni trio (Kyle, David and Daniel) were Falcons who each played for the North in the Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Oak Grove had two trios — the Mornhinwegs (Marty, Shanon and Brad) and the Iosefas (Leone, Lancer and Burton) — and St. Francis had one — the Scharrenbergs (Eric, Mark and Matt).

The Faylors now join a long list of all-star brothers:

SARATOGA Heinrich: Kyle (1975), Mike (1977), Kurt (1981)
Worman: Larry (1975), Steve (1978), Rick (1981)
Gatiss: Bob (1984), Gary (1985)
Goni: Kyle (1995), David (1997), Daniel (1999)
Moran: Brady (1999), Scott (2002)

OAK GROVE Mornhinweg: Marty (1980), Shanon (1985), Brad (1986)
Iosefa: Leone (2002), Lancer (2003), Burton (2005)
Klinkhammer: Lonnie (1980), Lin (1983)

ST. FRANCIS Scharrenberg: Eric (1986), Mark (1987), Matt (1995)
Manoukian: Matt (2001), Mike (2003)

PIONEER Murdock: Kyle (1997), Jason (1999)
Murdock: Grant (1999), Travis (2000)

LOS GATOS Farwell: Joe (1988), Gus (1995)
Rollin: Alex (2003), Erik (2005)

CUPERTINO Ravadge: Andrew (2003), Matt (2005)

JAMES LICK Nelson: Tim (1978), Tom (1978)

OVERFELT Randall: Richard (1985), Tony (1985)

LEIGH Padia: Kyle (1998), Kasey (2001)

PALO ALTO Wusu: Timi (2001), Tolu (2003)

LELAND Tillman: Pat (1994), Richard (1999)

FREMONT Savage: Steve (1988), Scott (1990)

SANTA CLARA Volta: Eric (1994), Chris (1986)

GILROY Fortino: Robert (1982), Mike (1988)

CAMPBELL/BLACKFORD Aimonetti: Steve (1979 for Campbell), John (1982 for Blackford)