FOOTBALL: Brother Rice’s Alessi does it all, crafts legacy for state-champion Warriors
BERKLEY – Throughout much of his high school football career, Birmingham Brother Rice’s Jason Alessi has done almost everything for the Warriors.
The senior has been an impact player for Brother Rice both defensively from his safety position, as well as on special teams as a kicker.
He’s one of the state’s best at both positions.
But Alessi had yet to make any noise on the offensive side of the ball during his career.
That was until Saturday night.
With Brother Rice trailing 24-20 with two seconds left to play, Alessi lined up at receiver for the Warriors for his first offensive snap of the season, and he didn’t disappoint.
The do-it-all senior raced down the field and made a leaping grab on a Hail Mary pass from junior Alex Malzone in the back left-corner of the end zone to give Brother Rice a near-impossible and thrilling 26-24 comeback-victory over Warren De La Salle.
“My guy was playing man on me and there was a safety over the top on the slot receiver,” said Alessi of his game-winning score. “So I knew if I beat my guy over the top, I knew I was going to have an open zone and I ran past him and was able to score.”
According to Malzone, Brother Rice and head coach Al Fracassa have been working to try and get Alessi some time on the offensive side of the ball for some time now and the last play in Saturday’s game turned out to be the perfect time to do just that.
“Coach Fracassa’s always trying to get him on the offensive side of the ball,” he said. “We want to use him in a little bit of a spread like that last play and he’s just a playmaker. He’s a great player and a ball hawk and I hope he’s playing Division 1 college football next year.”
Alessi also contributed a pair of field goals, the first coming from 37 yards away to cut the De La Salle lead to 14-3 and a 28 yard field goal to bring Brother Rice to within 17-13 in the third quarter, as well as a game-high nine tackles from his safety position in the win for Brother Rice.
“He’s unbelievable,” Fracassa said of his star senior. “They (De La Salle) played a great game and I can’t take anything away from them and we were fortunate enough to win.”
Alessi said that his main focus on a game-in, game-out basis is to help Brother Rice any way he can, whether it be on offense, defense or on special teams, where he is also a standout kick and punt returner and scored the game-winning touchdown in the Division 2 state finals on a kick return last season.
“It’s all about going out and trying to win and helping out the whole team,” he said. “Whatever I can do, I’ll do. Whether it’s playing offense or defense, I’ll just do whatever it takes to help us win.”
Asked to join the Brother Rice football team towards the end of the 2011 season due to the squad’s kicking problems, Alessi has helped play a key role in each of Brother Rice’s back-to-back state championships and is once again one of the leaders of the Warriors’ squad in their quest to make it three straight state titles.
“When I joined the team, I had no idea that this would happen or that anything would happen,” he said of his decision to play football before the Warrior’s playoff push in 2011. “But some things work in strange ways and it’s been unbelievable.”
Now with his stock beginning to soar in the football recruiting world, Alessi, who is committed to Michigan to play lacrosse for now, has reopened his courting process.
“I just don’t want to look back and think ‘what if I had played in college’,” he said. “I just want to have no regrets and who knows what happens.”
This season, Alessi has tallied five field goals on the season, two interceptions and two returns for touchdowns on special teams for the Warriors, as the two-time defending state champions are off to a red-hot 4-0 start.