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SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame

2018 SAISD Athletic Hall of Fame Honorees

Fennis Dembo - an All-State basketball player at Fox Tech HS. This 1984 graduate starred at point guard on the hardwood floors. At a towering 6 feet 4 inches tall, Dembo was a feared competitor in basketball and helped lead his high school team to the UIL state semi-finals in 1984. Dembo would go on to sign a college basketball scholarship at the University of Wyoming. He rose to stardom, becoming the Cowboys all-time leading scorer and rebounder in school history. He accumulated 2,311 points and 954 rebounds in four years at Wyoming. He helped lead the team to the Sweet Sixteen of the 1987 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.  At the 1987 NCAA Tournament, Dembo was the leading scorer averaging 27.8 points a game. He attracted national attention when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated dressed as a cowboy. He was drafted into the National Basketball Association and helped the Detroit Pistons win the 1989 NBA championship.

Tai Dillard – a 1999 Sam Houston HS alum who was an All-State and All-City basketball player. She was a star shooting guard and helped her team advance to back-to-back UIL state basketball championship tournaments in 1998 and 1999. While in high school, she lettered in four different sports – basketball, cross country, volleyball and track. She played college basketball for four seasons at the University of Texas at Austin (1999-2003). In her senior season, she started 34 games and averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds per game and helped the Lady Longhorns reach the NCAA Women’s Final Four. She was a two-time Big 12 All-Academic honoree and she was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll five times. Dillard went on to play in the inaugural season for the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association in 2003. She played for the Silver Stars from 2003-2005. After her playing career ended, she became a high school and college women’s basketball coach.

Delores “Delo” Dyer - regarded as a pioneer in high school girls athletics. She coached volleyball for 16 seasons at Jefferson HS and built a winning dynasty for the Mustangs. Dyer became the first-ever volleyball coach for Jefferson in 1972 when the UIL officially recognized volleyball as a championship sport. In her coaching career, she amassed an incredible 410-80 overall record for a winning percentage of .837, the winningest percentage for volleyball in San Antonio history. Dyer guided the Lady Mustangs to nine straight league championships. Under Dyer, Jefferson won or shared 13 district titles in 16 seasons. Her signature moment came in 1979 when she led her Mustangs to the state championship finals game against Cypress Creek HS. Jefferson won an amazing 92 straight district matches between 1978-1984 under Dyer. She stepped down as the Jefferson volleyball coach in 1986 and worked for SAISD a total of 35 years (1959-1994). 

Darryl Baris Grant - known as one of the best athletes to ever wear a football helmet for Highlands HS. The 1977 graduate was a blue-chip star offensive and defensive lineman for the Owls. At 6 feet 1 inch and 250 plus pounds, Grant played college football at Rice University. In 1981, he was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the National Football League. He was a “monster” defensive lineman for the Redskins throughout the decade of the 1980s. Grant helped the Redskins make the playoffs six times, including three trips to the Super Bowl (two wins) and four conference championship appearances (three wins). He is best remembered for his 1983 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, where he intercepted a pass for a 10-yard touchdown, high-step run that sent the home Redskins crowd into a frenzy. His heroics put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. Grant played in 141 games for the Redskins from 1981-1990, finishing with 27 sacks and two interceptions. His best season was in 1984 when he recorded a career-high eight sacks. He ended his professional career with Tampa Bay.

Clifford Johnson – a 1966 graduate of Wheatley High School and a standout athlete in baseball, football, basketball and track. At 6 feet 4 inches and 212 pounds, he played catcher for the Wheatley Lions in his senior year. Immediately after high school in 1966, he was drafted into professional baseball by the Houston Astros. After six seasons in the minor leagues, he made his major league debut for the Astros in 1972. He played catcher, first base and outfield in the early part of his professional career before becoming primarily a full-time designated hitter. Johnson played a total of 15 years and for seven different teams in Major League Baseball. Two of those seasons, he helped the New York Yankees win back-to-back World Series championships in 1977 and 1978. In his career, Johnson posted a .258 batting average with 196 home runs and 669 RBI in 1,269 games played. He held the MLB record for pinch-hit home runs with 20 until it was broken in 2010.

David Vela - a 1979 Burbank HS alum, known as a sizzling speedster receiver with great hands. He was an All-City football player and was named to the 1970’s All-Decade high school football team by the San Antonio Express-News. In the peak of his athletic career, Vela ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.5 seconds. At 6 feet 2 inches and 180 pounds, he helped lead his Burbank Bulldogs to the school’s only undefeated regular season at 10-0 in 1978. Besides football, he lettered in basketball and track. He starred on the Burbank basketball team that advanced to the state semifinals in 1977. He was a Little All-American football player at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, now called Texas State University. He set a school record in most receiving yards and touchdown receptions in 1981, a record that stood until 2008. With Vela, the Bobcats won two National Division II Football Championships in 1981 and 1982. He played professional football for the Oakland Raiders (National Football League) and San Antonio Gunslingers (United States Football League) from 1983-1986.

Julius Whittier – a 1969 Highlands HS graduate who was a star football player and team captain. He excelled on the high school gridiron and earned a four-year scholarship to play college football for the University of Texas at Austin. He made an historical impact by becoming the first African American to ever letter in football at UT Austin. He played offensive tackle and tight end for the Longhorns. He helped the team win three Southwest Conference championships (1970, 1971 and 1972) and one National Division I Championship in 1970. Following college graduation, he earned a graduate degree at the LBJ School of Public Affairs in 1976 and completed a law degree. In his professional career, he was a senior prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney’s office and worked in private practice as a criminal defense attorney. 

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