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

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

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

If there is one theme to this yearís clash, itís to get to the stadium early, because the stateís 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 Leagueís Prep Bowl in Week 9.

ďIt is kind of sad that this is our going to be our last,Ē Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach said of coaching against Fracassa. ďItís been a great experience for me. Iíve learned an awful lot from him and also the rivalry.Ē

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

ďWeíve got a little thing planned,Ē Mach said. ďItís not going to be a big thing but itíll be a nice thing.Ē

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 Centralís Catholic League Central Division opener.

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

Meanwhile, Brother Rice won a tough opener against one of Ohioís 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 wouldíve been there regardless.

ďItís Catholic Central week for us and for them itís Brother Rice week,Ē Fracassa said. ďItís a big rivalry and I donít know if Iím going to have to say letís work harder in practice. It is something that is inside of them.Ē

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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