STOCKTON — Mike House says his son still listens when the "old man" has something useful to say, but experience has taught him that it's best to talk following a large meal.
"He had a girlfriend a year ago, so we sat down to talk about making the best use of his time," House says. "I said 'You have school, seminary, football and still need to sleep ... there's not much time left.' Remember your priorities."
Tim House listened to his father a bit longer and nodded in agreement. When his father asked if there were any questions, Tim replied "Are there any more Pop-Tarts?"
It was a Father's Day moment Mike will never forget.
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"He sounded like me at that age, always looking for something to eat," the 53-year-old father notes. "Looking back, he did a better job than I ever could have hoped he would."
The younger House had a senior year that any dad would be proud of, and it culminates with tonight's 37th Lions All-Star Classic at University of the Pacific. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
House's highlights include:
All-state honors after the 6-foot-3, 240-pound back piled up 1,461 yards and 27 TDs.
A spot on The Bee's Stanislaus District Team of the Decade, as well as earning a spot on the 2010 All-District team.
A State Meet berth in the discus after finishing second in the Sac-Joaquin Section.
A 3.6 GPA, as well as confirmation that he was academically approved to play football for a Division I program.
An invitation from Fresno State's Pat Hill to walk-on with the 'Dogs football team.
And being selected to the all-star game that only added to his father's legendary status in football-mad Oakdale.
Mike House was in the 1975 game and caught two TDs in the South's win. He will be in the stands tonight when Tim plays his final game as a high school player, 35 years later.
"I've listened to my dad talk about the Lions game and it inspired me to work hard to get here," says Tim, an all-district linebacker as a junior. "I got excited when I was picked because me being in the game means a lot to my dad, too."
Sam Parker got pretty excited when Tim was picked, too. The Buhach Colony coach is on the South staff and works daily with Tim, just as he did with his father 35 years ago.
"Father and son strive to get the most out of each play. You can see the deep desire in Tim's eyes that you could see in Mike's," Parker says. "The other thing both have is a very genuine smile that says they love playing the game.
"Mike was a really talented player, really intelligent, and you could see he had a great deal of pride in doing things correctly. Tim is the same."
Mike sees it in his son, too.
"He enjoys playing and he's good at it," Mike says. "Football was important to me as a kid because I was wandering.
"I didn't have anything that I was really passionate over, but early in my junior year I found my calling in football."
Mike House built his reputation as a pass-catching tight end at Oakdale, before playing for UOP and being drafted by the New England Patriots.
Tim took a different path, lining up in the backfield and crashing through defenders. He had 320 yards and six TDs in the final two games, a playoff upset of Vanden and a season-ending loss to Inderkum.
Those performances helped earn the invite from Fresno.
"I'm thrilled because he'll be just two hours away," says Mike, adding that his son can bring home his dirty laundry any time he likes. "Tim is the youngest of our six, so this is a transition to Judy and me."
While Judy was close to the four girls, Mike always had more in common with Tim and his older brother, Kevin.
Whether talking football or working on the ranch — the family raised chickens until recently — Mike always tried to make time for his children.
That included roaming the sideline Friday nights, using his wife's camera to take hundreds of photos of anyone wearing an Oakdale uniform.
"It was sort of like being everyone's dad, because I got so proud seeing all of those kids play," says Mike, who would distribute the photos the following week for free. "It also gave me time to watch Tim."
Observation sometimes led to action, like after a season-opening, 56-6 rout of Turlock.
"I told him 'You're going to be bigger and stronger than 99 percent of the kids you meet, so you've got to run with authority," says Mike, who still lives on his ranch and is now on the school board. "And always, always fall forward."
That running style became Tim's trademark, as he burst through the center of the line and often kept running as a linebacker tried to grab hold.
No one in Oakdale expected anything less from a House.
"Football plays a big role in Oakdale and the people have high expectations," Tim says. "People still talk about my dad being a player, and that motivated me to work harder. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, especially my dad."