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Brother Rice players surround coach Al Fracassa after the Warriors beat Muskegon in Friday's Division 2 final, 38-21. It was the ninth state title for Fracassa, the state's all-time winningest coach who coached his last game after 45 seasons on Friday. (The Oakland Press/Vaughn Gurganian)


DUNLAP: After storybook ending, the dreaded task of replacing Al Fracassa begins for Brother Rice WITH TOUT VIDEOS

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All week long, the vibe around Friday’s Division 2 state football final between Birmingham Brother Rice and Muskegon wasn’t about whether Brother Rice would win.

Instead, it was a case where Brother Rice seemingly HAD to win, just like the sun has to rise and set and that every living organism has to die at some point.

It was hard to argue that feeling, given high school football’s all-time winningest coach in this state, Al Fracassa, was coaching in his final game after 45 seasons as head coach at Brother Rice and the Warriors were not only looking to send him into his retirement with his ninth state playoff championship, but with the school’s only 14-0 season.

The justice of a happy ending was served, as Brother Rice did indeed complete a 14-0 season by winning its third consecutive state title with a 38-21 win over Muskegon at Ford Field.


So now with the storybook ending for Fracassa’s career complete, the big question now is what the next chapter in the history of the Brother Rice football program will look like.

The school will now get ready for what will be arguably the most followed coaching search in the history of high school football within the state, and for good reason because the Brother Rice job is one of the top jobs in the entire Midwest, if not the nation.

Brother Rice athletic director Reg Cavender said that a five-person search committee has been in place and that applications for anybody interested in the job will start to be taken on Monday, although it is a good bet dozens have expressed interest in the position ever since Fracassa announced at last year’s team banquet that this year would be his last.

“The selection committee will nominate people and interview people,” said Cavender, adding the final decision will be made by school principal Br. Michael Segvich and school president John Birney. “That is the basic process. Coaches can apply online by going to the Brother Rice website. They can put their resumes and their references.”

The process of applying may be simple, but it goes without saying that the process of finding Fracassa’s replacement will be way more complicated.

Let the firestorm of questions begin.

Will the selection committee want an internal candidate or one from outside the program?

Does the committee consider someone who coaches at another school but is an alumnus or former coach at Brother Rice as an internal candidate?

Will the school want any new football coach to be also be a teacher or administrator at the school so they can be inside the building, or will that matter?

Does the committee prefer to hire a coach that will bring in his own system, or one who is willing to run a system identical or similar to Fracassa?

How much input will Fracassa have in the naming of his successor?

What is the timetable for naming a replacement? Brother Rice obviously wants to be as thorough as possible, but swiftness is also important since a new coach will need to be in place when the offseason conditioning program really cranks up come January.

Understandably, nobody around Brother Rice was in the mood to focus on the coaching search on Friday because they obviously wanted to focus on this year’s team and the celebration of Fracassa’s glorious tenure as head coach.

Behind the passing game, led by sensational play from a junior quarterback in Alex Malzone that will likely be getting plenty of scholarship offers from college programs between now and the start of practice next August, Brother Rice easily handled Muskegon for a second straight year in the title game for playoff title No. 9 under Fracassa.

Fracassa’s wife of 57 years, Phyllis, was in the stands for the first time in years for a game, and he said there was a reason for that.

“She used to come but she would get so nervous that she would beat everybody up next to her,” Fracassa quipped. “Today she came with my daughter, who flew in from Omaha. It was nice to see.”

But come Monday morning when school is back in session, the cold reality and the moment so many associated with Brother Rice have dreaded for years will finally hit home: The state’s all-time winningest coach has to be replaced.

“(The end) is here and it’s time for someone else to take over,” Fracassa said.

One of the top high school jobs in the entire nation is now open.

Get ready for an eventful few weeks to see who Fracassa’s successor will be and if there are more storybook endings in the future for Brother Rice football.

Keith Dunlap is the high school sports coordinator for the Oakland Press. E-mail him at and follow him on Twitter @kd2578.

More Brother Rice title game coverage

Recap: Brother Rice tops Muskegon, 38-21, in Division 2 title game

Jason Alessi ties MHSAA field goal record

Lacanaria, Perry set the pace for the Brother Rice passing attack

Brother Rice defense solved the Muskegon offense in the second half

Post-game Brother Rice press conference

Senior class at Brother Rice secured dynasty status with third-straight title

Malzone taking Brother Rice offense to new heights

Last Updated: 11/30/2013 11:09:27 AM EST

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