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Longtime Birmingham Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa announced at a team banquet Sunday that he will return for his 45th season next year. But it will be his last. (The Oakland Press file photo)


Al Fracassa returning to coach Brother Rice, for final season

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One more year.

Following two weeks of speculation that legendary Birmingham Brother Rice football coach Al Fracassa was contemplating stepping down, the 80-year old fixture on the Warriors sidelines for the past 44 seasons announced Sunday at a team banquet that he will return for the 2013 campaign, but it will be his last.

“I’ve got one more left in me and then that’s going to be it,” said Fracassa in a phone interview Sunday night. “I’m happy with my decision. I love the game of football. It’s been very good to me. However, I think after this next season it will be time to step away.”

Fracassa, owner of the state-record for most career wins (416), is coming off two straight seasons where he led Brother Rice to Division 2 state titles. Since taking the reins of the program in the late 1960s, Fracassa established the Warriors as one of the preeminent high school teams in the nation and has guided his squads to nine state crowns (eight MHSAA tournament championships). He started his varsity coaching career at Royal Oak Shrine in 1960, leading the Knights for nine seasons before coming over to Brother Rice in the fall of 1968.

"I love the kids, that's what its all about for me," Fracassa said.

Last season was the first time in Fracassa's storied tenure that he ever captured back-to-back state championships.

In the post-game press conference after defeating Muskegon in a down-to-the-wire thriller in the state finals late last month, he deflected questions about his decision to come back or not, by saying 'I'm going to wait and talk about it with my famuly and then choose what I plan to do."

The two-time defending state champion Warriors remain stacked with high-level talent for the upcoming season and will be a favorite next fall to bring home a third state title in a row.

The star tailback tandem of Brian Walker and Shon Powell, quarterback Alex Malzone, considered one of the top field generals in the state’s Class of 2015, and virtually the team’s entire receiving corps are back to navigate Brother Rice’s offense and nose tackle Alberto Sandoval and safety Chris Carter return to pace the defense.

“I like this group a lot, they’re hard-working and dedicated and I’m very content with them being the last team I coach,” Fracassa said. “I wanted them all to know from the very start that this was my last year. They deserved that courtesy. Now, everybody is on the same page and we can start preparing for another journey together.”

David Sofran, the Warriors offensive coordinator and associate head coach, a longtime Fracassa protégé and former player, is viewed as the frontrunner to replace him.

Last Updated: 12/9/2012 7:02:26 PM EST

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