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FOOTBALL: Fracassa set to return for one more year at the helm of Brother Rice football program

By: Scott Burnstein, December 11, 2012, 11:00 pm

The legend will return.

Over the weekend, longtime Birmingham Brother Rice head football coach Al Fracassa put to rest any thoughts of retirement – for now.

Speaking at the team banquet, Fracassa, who last month turned 80 and led his Warriors to their first-ever repeat state championship, announced that he intends to come back next fall for his 54th season on the area high school sidelines.

However, that’s all he’s got left in the tank.

An emotional Fracassa told his team and the notoriously tight-knit Brother Rice community that the 2013 campaign will be his last at the helm of the illustrious program that he built to its current nationally prominent stature.

“I’m very eager to return for another year, but after that, I think it’s time to step away,” he said. “I’ve given a lot to the game of football and it’s given a lot back to me. One more year is enough. Whether I’m coaching there or not, my heart will always be at Brother Rice.”

Fracassa has coached at the school for 44 years, raising nine state title banners (eight MHSAA crowns). He has accumulated more wins (416) than any coach in state history. Only a handful of coaches in the annals of prep football in this country have ever eclipsed the 400-win mark.

A star quarterback himself in high school at Detroit Northeastern, Fracassa earned a scholarship to Michigan State and started his coaching career in 1960 at Royal Oak Shrine. His first year on the sidelines at Brother Rice was in 1968. His first state title came in 1974 when the Warriors finished the season undefeated, capturing a mythical championships voted on by the local newspapers of the era. 

Brother Rice will be primed for a possible three-peat in 2013, sure to make the legendary coach’s final season an exciting one.

Three Division I recruits will fill Fracassa’s backfield next fall in junior-to-be Alex Malzone, one of the top quarterback recruits in the state’s Class of 2015 and incoming senior tailbacks Brian Walker and Shon Powell. Defensively, the Warriors will remain stout, returning run-stuffing nose-tackle Albert Sandoval, linebackers Joey Plaskey, Jack Grisan and Shaun Jones and the standout safety tandem of Jason Alessi and Chris Carter.