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Grant Perry (left) and Alex Malzone (center) will return to lead Birmingham Brother Rice in an effort for a fourth consecutive state title on the football field in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Brother Rice)

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FOOTBALL: Even with Fracassa leaving, Brother Rice not likely to miss a beat next year

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BIRMINGHAM – Whoever takes over as the head coach of the storied Birmingham Brother Rice football program in the wake of Al Fracassa’s retirement will have a treasure trove of toys to play with on his roster in his inaugural year on the sidelines.

The three-time defending Division 2 state champion Warriors return a good deal of talent and will be poised to challenge for a fourth straight crown next season.

“I think they’ll be alright, they have some really nice players that will be back to lead the team into battle,” Fracassa said.

At the epicenter of the attack again will be star quarterback Alex Malzone, ready for what could be a record-book shattering senior year.

Malzone is an exquisite field general, smart, strong-armed and heavily sought-after by numerous Division I college recruiters.

Similar to this fall, he’ll have an array of weapons at his disposal in running the squad’s offense, which should be tremendously dangerous once again.

Grant Perry, a slick and sure-handed wide receiver, will be Malzone’s best friend in the passing game. Also a standout on defense at cornerback, Perry is being recruited by several Division I colleges as well. Him and Malzone hooked up for a pair of touchdowns last Friday in the Warriors 38-21 plowing of Muskegon in the state finals.

Two of Brother Rice’s top returning playmakers on the offensive side of the football, slotback Delano Madison and tailback Bobby Dixon, will each be coming back from injuries which forced them to miss the entire 2013 campaign.

Madison showed flashes of brilliance late in the 2012 season as a sophomore after being called up from the junior varsity. He is the fastest player in the program. Dixon will most likely be the Warriors’ primary ball-carrier in the backfield next year.

Spencer Dickow, Marc Miller and Mac Hendry, returning starters on the line, will continue giving Malzone high-quality protection and the time he needs to pick opposing defenses apart. Hendry is on the mend from a season-ending injury, too.

“We have some great players that will be back,” said Malzone looking ahead. “We’ve set the bar very high with the type of success we’ve found with this group the last three years and the kind of tradition Brother Rice football has in general. The goal is to continue that and keep building on it. Next season, it’s going to be fun to have an opportunity to go for four in a row.”

Jack Dunaway and Riley Maher will be back heading the Brother Rice defense.

Dunaway is an excellent pass-rusher and an energizing presence in the trenches. Collecting a robust 15 sacks and 20 hurries, he had a breakout season this year turning himself into a genuine college prospect..

Maher is the next star linebacker out of a program known for producing juggernauts at the position. He was the only sophomore on the team to earn a starting spot in the preseason last summer, but missed the second half of the year due to an injury and like Madison and Dixon will have much expected of him when he returns to the field in 2014.

Although a new chapter in Brother Rice football will be written in the coming years, trying to establish an identity separate from Fracassa, the nationally-renowned program's architect and patriarch, Malzone knows he and his teammates will keep their departing coach close to their hearts moving forward.

“We’re definitely going to miss Coach Fracassa, he meant a lot to all of us,” he said. "It's hard to say goodbye. He's one of the most amazing people I've ever met in my life. Words can't describe how much he's touched all of our lives. The legacy lives on though through his players."

Last Updated: 12/2/2013 5:10:55 AM EST


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