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FOOTBALL SEMIFINALS: Brother Rice hoping to avoid letdown against Wyandotte Roosevelt

BLOOMFIELD HILLS – They’ve been there before.

And they want to go there again.

Ford Field that is and the MHSAA state football finals.

The Birmingham Brother Rice Warriors are one step away from getting back to Ford Field and receiving the opportunity to defend their Division 2 state championship.

Brother Rice takes on Wyandotte Roosevelt at Gibralter Carlson in the state semifinals Saturday afternoon, the right to play in the state finals for a second consecutive year hanging in the balance.

“We’re all looking forward to the game and it’s a mighty important one,” said legendary Brother Rice head coach Al Fracassa following practice Thursday night. “The incentive couldn’t be any greater, the chance to go to Ford Field and play for a state title. I’m sure both teams are going to go out there and play hard and we’ll see what happens.”

Holding a 10-2 record heading into the final four, Brother Rice is on a tear in the playoffs, destroying everything in its path. Fracassa’s Warriors are averaging 43 points per game in their three postseason affairs and winning their contests by an average margin of 28 points per game. Last week in the regional finals, Brother Rice thrashed Walled Lake Western 42-12.

“Everybody on this team is totally committed to the cause and that has been pretty evident in our recent performance,” Fracassa said. “This is a tough group of guys. They all love to compete and embrace the big-game atmosphere.”

The storied Brother Rice football program, headed by Fracassa since the 1960s, has captured a combined eight state crowns in school history. If the Warriors claim a state title this year, it will be the first time the program raises back-to-back state championship banners.

The entire school celebrated Fracassa’s 80th birthday on Tuesday and presented him with a plaque honoring his 44 years at the helm of the cherished gridiron contingent where he has accumulated an all-time state-record of 415 wins.

Roosevelt (11-1), which is making its first appearance in the semifinals since 2001, is coming off a narrow 10-6 victory in last week’s regional championship game over Oak Park, a game which the Bears defense clinched the win with a dramatic goal-line stand in the closing seconds.

Trailing late in the fourth quarter, Roosevelt quarterback Kevin Matejko connected with receiver Brandon Sowards for a 31-yard touchdown and what turned out to be the game-winning score.

All-state senior middle linebacker and Michigan State-commit Jonny Reschke leads Brother Rice into battle on defense, while the enticing tailback tandem of juniors Brian Walker and Shon Powell fuel the Warriors’ explosive offense.

Last Updated: 11/15/2012 9:54:57 PM EST

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