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FOOTBALL: Brother Rice, Catholic Central set for historic showdown even in what is state's best rivalry

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The annual tilt between Birmingham Brother Rice and Novi Detroit Catholic Central never really needs any hype because it’s a big enough game by itself.

But since there are just too big of other storylines surrounding this year’s game on Saturday night at Catholic Central, it’s impossible to resist hyping it up further.

If there is one theme to this year’s clash, it’s to get to the stadium early, because the state’s best rivalry and one of the top attended games of the season figures to have even more paying customers come Saturday because it might be one of the most meaningful games in the history of the storied rivalry.

First of all, the game is gigantic because the Warriors and Shamrocks each enter this game unbeaten at 4-0. Second and most importantly, this will be the final time retiring Brother Rice head coach Al Fracassa will face Catholic Central, barring a meeting at the Catholic League’s Prep Bowl in Week 9.

“It is kind of sad that this is our going to be our last,” Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach said of coaching against Fracassa. “It’s been a great experience for me. I’ve learned an awful lot from him and also the rivalry.”

Since it will definitely be the last game Fracassa coaches at Catholic Central, the school has planned to honor Fracassa in a pregame ceremony.

“We’ve got a little thing planned,” Mach said. “It’s not going to be a big thing but it’ll be a nice thing.”

The two teams have taken different paths to get to their 4-0 records. Catholic Central has essentially had four exhibition games to prepare for the Warriors, earning victories over Detroit Cody and three out of state schools by a combined total of 145-13.

Catholic Central has dominated so far by doing what it usually does, which is play sound defense and mash teams with its punishing running game that this year is led by Zach Bock and Dylan Roney.

Despite the dominance his team has shown, Mach knows his players will have to raise their games

more than a few levels to knock off Brother Rice in what is Catholic Central’s Catholic League Central Division opener.

“We know the difference between the people we have played so far and the teams in the Central Division is immense,” Mach said.

Meanwhile, Brother Rice won a tough opener against one of Ohio’s top teams, Cleveland St. Ignatius, before prevailing last week against Warren De La Salle on a miraculous finish.

The Warriors completed a Hail Mary pass as time expired to earn a 26-24 win over the Pilots, so Brother Rice figures to have even more energy than usual going into the game against Catholic Central.

Then again, the energy would’ve been there regardless.

“It’s Catholic Central week for us and for them it’s Brother Rice week,” Fracassa said. “It’s a big rivalry and I don’t know if I’m going to have to say let’s work harder in practice. It is something that is inside of them.”

Brother Rice has one of the most unstoppable offenses in the state, with junior quarterback Alex Malzone skyrocketing up recruiting rankings with his torrid start to the season, wideouts Corey Lacanaria and Grant Perry capable of making big plays and running backs Shon Powell and Brian Walker a terrific 1-2 punch in the backfield.

Last Updated: 9/26/2013 3:31:29 AM EST

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