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November 18, 2013

Warriors keep Fracassa employed for at least another week, move to semis

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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Warriors keep Fracassa employed for at least another week, move to semis
Brother Rice’s Grant Perry runs into the end zone just before the half during the Warriors’ regional victory over U of D Jesuit.

BERKLEY — His retirement is scheduled, but for the third time in as many weeks, it’s been delayed.

And Birmingham Brother Rice football coach Al Fracassa has no problem with that, whatsoever.

“We’re having a lot of fun right now,” Fracassa said with a laugh after his team beat the University of Detroit Jesuit 41-14 in a Division 2 regional final last Saturday at Hurley Field in Berkley. “The guys just play so hard every week.”

There’s always a danger in playing a team for a second time in any season, especially after winning the first meeting.

But Rice, which beat U of D 38-0 back in October, proved the first get-together wasn’t a fluke.

And the Warriors did so by dominating on both sides of the ball.

After forcing a punt on the Cubs’ opening drive, Rice took its first possession and capped it with a 3-yard touchdown run from Brian Walker.

Another punt gave way to another score, this time a 45-yard pass from Alex Malzone to Corey Lacanaria, and the route was, more or less, on.

Malzone tossed two more touchdown passes in the second quarter — one to Patrick Sparks and one to Grant Perry — and Jason Alessi nailed a 30-yard field goal for a 31-0 advantage at the half.

Alessi hit a 43-yard field goal in the fourth, and Walker capped the scoring with a 56-yard run late in the game to seal the win.

The offense continued to pile up the yards and points, but the defense was just as dominant, picking up six sacks, two interceptions and a fumble.

“Our defense did a real good job,” Fracassa said. “They had the late touchdowns at the end, but that’s all right. … You never know why you can play so well against a good team. We knew we’d be in for a battle, so our guys were ready for the challenge.”

Rice (12-0) is set to face Detroit Martin Luther King (10-1) at p.m. Nov. 23 in a D-2 semifinal at Wayne State University.

The teams met in the 2011 semifinal, which Rice won 27-26.

King’s only loss this year was to Detroit Cass Tech, which is 12-0 and looking for its third straight title in D-1.

“We’ve played some good teams all season long,” Fracassa said. “We’re used to playing good teams, and that’s the advantage we have. If we can maintain momentum, keep the offense going and let the defense do it’s thing, we’ll have a good chance.”

Tough end to Country Day season
In a D-4 regional final at Marine City, Country Day had its run to a second straight championship game cut short in a 33-28 loss.

The game’s final score came with 45 seconds remaining when Marine City completed an 18-yard touchdown pass.

There was discussion as to whether the Marine City receiver possessed the ball before falling out of bounds. The two officials on the scene came together before signaling the play good.

“It wasn’t a touchdown,” Country Day coach Dan MacLean said. “I’ve got a film guy that watched it that said there’s no way it was a catch. … I give all the credit in the world to Marine City and the way they played, because they made some big plays and we made some big mistakes, but at the end of the day, to have it come down to that call is tough.”

Country Day, which started the season 0-3, finishes 8-4.

“I have to give these kids a ton of credit,” MacLean said. “There was an opportunity for this season to go off the rails after the first three weeks, but they battled back. They hung in there, and they turned things around. I mean it. I’m so proud of these guys and what they were able to accomplish.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.