In Play with Tom Markowski


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Brother Rice, sans Fracassa, plays CC for 59th time

By: Tom Markowski, September 24, 2014, 12:00 am

Novi – This has been a year to remember for Detroit Catholic Central Coach Tom Mach. He guided the Shamrocks to their third consecutive state final appearance, 16th overall, last November and on March 1 he was officially inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame. On Saturday State Champs Network will present a half hour documentary on Mach to be broadcast on Channel 7 at 1:30 p.m.
One important item is missing from this list of accomplishments and honors; a C.C. victory over rival Birmingham Brother Rice.
C.C. (2-2) opens its Catholic League Central Division season against Brother Rice (4-0, 1-0) on Friday at Hurley Field in Berkley at 7 p.m. 
Brother Rice leads the series 29-28-1 after winning twice last season, 28-21, and 20-7.
This is Mach’s 39th season as C.C.’s head coach. During this time he and legendary coach Al Fracassa matched wits 45 times with Mach holding the slight edge, 24-21. This will be the first time Mach will coach against Brother Rice without Fracassa on the opposite sideline.
“Personally, I’ll miss Al,” Mach said. “Time changes. (Brother Rice) hasn’t missed a beat. Al already established the tradition there. It’s a great rivalry we have. They’re the No. 1 team on our schedule. They’re the one we want to beat.”
It’s been a trying season to this point for Mach and his staff. Numerous injuries have forced the staff to play a handful of players that perhaps weren’t ready, or at least don’t have the experience to execute as Mach would like. But he gives no excuses. From his point of view if you are good enough to wear a C.C. uniform you are good enough to play no matter the opponent.
C.C. lost to Muskegon 21-14 in the opener and then lost to Toledo Whitmer 44-27. Both games were on the road, the later played in two days because of a weather delay.
Last week’s 49-0 victory at Traverse City Central (3-1) was more indicative of what the Shamrocks are capable of on both sides of the ball.
“We’ve been under a lot of stress,” Mach said. “We’re getting back to normal. We got our backfield back. All of the things started to mesh (against T.C. Central). When you lose people, you have to re-teach. We still have guys out but we’re getting there. It’s been a crazy year.”
Mach would not discuss which players missed time but he did say quarterback Joe Fanning and two-way end Cameron Hendershot, both seniors, have not missed a down.
Other top seniors to look for on Friday are linebacker Jordan Jenkins and two-way tackle Nico Stante.
For Brother Rice Dave Sofran will coach his first game against C.C.
Brother Rice is riding a 26-game winning streak, the school’s longest, and are led by quarterback Alex Malzone who is 18-0 as a starter. Look for C.C. to stop Brother Rice’s rushing attack and force the Warriors to throw the ball more often than they’d like.            PICK: Upset special, C.C. by 3.     


All games are Friday at 7 p.m. unless noted.
Clarkston (4-0) at Oxford (4-0): Oxford’s did a tremendous job of containing Lake Orion’s run game last week. Clarkston will have success throwing the ball, which will open up the run game.            PICK: Clarkston by 7.

Dearborn (2-2) at Dearborn Fordson (4-0): Fordson has dominated this series over the years (24-11). Dearborn has won two of the last seven. Fordson won last year 34-7. Fordson is the class of the Western Wayne Athletic Conference.             PICK: Fordson by 16.

Farmington Hills Harrison (3-1) at Southfield (3-1), Saturday, 1: The winner keeps pace with Oak Park in the OAA White Division. Southfield’s defense must do what Oak Park did against Harrison – keep quarterback Jevon Shaw in the pocket.           PICK: Southfield by 6.

Grandville (2-2) at East Grand Rapids (2-2): A must win for both teams as their playoff hopes weigh heavily on this game. Both have lost their last two.          PICK: Grandville by 2.

Grosse Pointe North (2-2) at Grosse Pointe South (2-2); North has owned this series (28-17) but South has won four straight. South started the season 2-0 and finds its way back on track here.           PICK: South by 5.       

Lapeer (4-0) at Mount Pleasant (3-1): A victim of its schedule, Lapeer might not be ready to play this type of road game. Mount Pleasant has a young, inexperienced team but the Oilers are accustomed to playing competitive games like this.          PICK: Mount Pleasant by 2.   

Livonia Stevenson (3-1) at South Lyon (4-0): Stevenson invades the jungle with a talented but young group. South Lyon will prove to be too physical for these Spartans.         PICK: South Lyon by 8.

Madison Heights Madison (4-0) at Warren Woods Tower (4-0): This is a MAC crossover and neither team has played a close game since the opener. Madison has won all four games in this brief series.           PICK: Madison by 6.

Midland Dow (4-0) at Flint Powers (3-1): This is the first meeting for these Saginaw Valley Blue Division teams. Dow is averaging 51 points per game.             PICK: Dow by 9.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (4-0) vs. Warren De La Salle (3-1) at Wayne State: St. Mary’s hasn’t been tested since its 21-19 victory over Southfield in the opener. The Pilots have had just one breather and must forget about last week’s loss to Brother Rice.             PICK: De La Salle by 2.
Last week’s record: 7-3
Season record: 25-14