With their loose blond curls, linebacker shoulders, ruddy complexions and matching goatees, John and Joshua Whitaker look like brothers from a mother who took a few years off between visits to the maternity ward.

With their loose blond curls, linebacker shoulders, ruddy complexions and matching goatees, John and Joshua Whitaker look like brothers from a mother who took a few years off between visits to the maternity ward.

John's smile lines are cut a bit deeper and his chin whiskers carry enough gray to make it clear he's the older of the two. But not many people would think he's old enough to be Joshua's dad.

"We get that a lot," laughs John, after learning a photo entered by his wife, Laurie, had won top spot in the Mail Tribune's first father-child look-alike photo contest.

"Most of the time, people think we're brothers," says John, 49, a Crater High School graduate who's lived in Medford since he was a tyke. "I don't know if that means I look younger or he looks older, but I'll go with the younger."

The photo that impressed Mail Tribune judges was snapped two years ago at a luau to celebrate the 70th birthday of John's father, Bill. The natural resemblance of father and son was heightened by Hawaiian shirts and matching leis, but it was no trick of the firelight or lens that fooled the judges, says John.

"We were at a rodeo a couple of years ago and the people sitting in front of us heard Josh call me dad," recalls John, who is a transportation broker. "They freaked out. They're like, 'Dad? No way you're his dad.' "

John and Laurie unleashed two other offspring — daughter Corey, who is 23, and Johnny Jr., the oldest at 26, both of whom live in Medford. But for some reason, dad's genes didn't sculpt the features of his other kids the way they did with Joshua, 25, a civil engineer who graduated from North Medford High School and Oregon Institute of Technology.

"It's pretty much just me and Josh," says John, adding that the resemblance wasn't apparent when Joshua was a boy. "It got bigger later in his high school years and college," says John.

"Hindsight being 20-20, I guess he should have been the Jr."

The combination of genetic luck and mom's photography skill earned the Whitaker family a $30 pizza gift certificate from the Mail Tribune.

Not that they were the only vote-getters in the contest. Judges named Ron and Josh McNulty (photo No. 19 in the Mail Tribune's online gallery at www.mailtribune.com/fatherchild), Duane and Corey Cattanach (No. 45) and Roy and Hope Ellis (No. 79) as strong contenders.

Judges impressed with the range of photos submitted for the contest also chose a "style" winner in the contest. That award — and an ice cream gift certificate — goes to Jeff and Hannah Hensley of Central Point for photo No. 80 in the gallery.