New Head Coach at Brother Rice

Submitted by Seth on January 28th, 2014 at 2:12 PM


[Kirthmon Dozier/Detroit Free Press]

This is a couple days old but it's tangentially good news for in-state recruiting and mostly sad news for those who follow high school football in the state. Birmingham Brother Rice has named a successor to legendary head coach Al Fracassa, who'd been Rice's coach since the same year Bo took over at Michigan, and announced his impending retirement before winning the state's D-II championship in 2013. They went with the in-house candidate. Article:

(Old Ann Arbor news readers will recognize the author. I thought he was one of their best).

That successor is his former offensive coordinator, Dave Sofran, who was Brother Rice's QB back when I was in high school. Sofran played for Northeastern University in Boston. He was Fracassa's choice to succeed him and plans to keep most of the staff around. If you've watched Alex Malzone's tape you're familiar with Sofran's offense, which is pro-style.

Fracassa was a Spartan to his bones (guy played for Duffy) and his players tended to go to Michigan State or not-Michigan since the recruiting era began. Fracassa had plenty of players who came to play for Michigan, and in fact one of Bo's last speaking engagements was when they renamed the field at Brother Rice for Fracassa. When various Michigan coaches grumbled about some of the shady Spartans who had head coaching jobs in the state in the mid-aughts, Fracassa wasn't one of them.

Most recent Wolverines who played for Fracassa were walk-on Paul Gyarmati and longsnapper Jareth Glanda. You might also remember Steve Morrison, Paul Manning, Marc Milia, Matt Studenski,  Zac Ciullo (whose car is parked in the Brother Rice lot for every home game and impossible to miss), punter [EDIT] Ross Ryan, and giant WR Paul Jokisch (but not his little brother, who went to Clarkston). That's an incomplete list.

Other high-profile guys to play for Rice are former NFLers Mike Lodish and and Brian Brennan, Spartans Jon Reschke, Charlie Gantt, Caulton Ray, and Adam Decker, Penn State's Chris Colasanti, Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley, Tennessee's Darris Sawtelle, Illinois's Devin Church, and Kenny Watkins at Minnesota. Fracassa also was the guy behind the annual Michigan quarterbacks camp,


Stephen Y

January 28th, 2014 at 2:54 PM ^

Also, TJ Lang, who is an Eastern Michigan grad and currently starting at G for the Packers.

I never played for Coach Fracassa, but I'll tell you the truth, the guy genuinely cared for the students. He would always stop to say hi or chat with students in the hallway, even if he had no clue who you were. Sofran has big shoes to fill.


January 28th, 2014 at 3:50 PM ^

Cochran was really a Royal Oak Dondero guy, who just transferred to Rice his senior year. The rationale was to get more recruiting exposure, but when you're first team All-State as a junior, I'm pretty sure he was already on the radar screen of most schools.

yossarians tree

January 28th, 2014 at 3:10 PM ^

Tough shoes to fill for Sofran, though I went to a game last year and really Fracassa's assisstants were running the show the last few seasons anyways. They ran practices like a college team. Al had some leg or back problems and he actually spent much of the game watching from a stool on the sidelines. What made him so great was that his players looked up to him as a near-mythic figure and they would literally run through walls for him.

People remember Paul Jokisch as a guy who came to Michigan as a basketball player, in the original Fab Five (Tarpley, Wade, Rellford, Henderson I believe?), but who was eventually stolen away by Bo and became a pretty good split end. Well, he was a damn good pitcher on the baseball team, too (at Rice). I played one year with him and he was legit, coming at hitters all 6 foot 8 like Doug Fister. He was such a good athlete I believe he could have played college baseball if he had set his mind to it.

Another Rice player from that era to play for Bo was Brad Cochran, damn good cornerback who had a few years with the Raiders at least.

True Blue Grit

January 28th, 2014 at 3:06 PM ^

I grew up in Birmingham close to Brother Rice and remember many great teams there.  Michigan used to get a lot more players there years ago than in recent times.  I'm curious, now that Coach Fracassa is retired, is there any reason to think the Brother Rice pipeline for Michigan will improve in the near future?  There's no doubt they still produce good, talented athletes.  


January 29th, 2014 at 10:56 AM ^

...when I was at U-M. They moved there in the summer between my freshman/sophomore years after my dad retired from the Army. So I didn't grow up there or go to school there. 

Nice grey 1840s farmhouse with a red barn (subsequently torn down by future owners).

yossarians tree

January 28th, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

Also, Alex Malzone looked like the real deal to me when I watched last year's state championship game. I think he started off the game with 16 straight completions, deep outs, bubble screens, all kinds of throws. Not that I'm that great a judge of horseflesh, but it would be a shame if that guy goes to State or PSU or someplace and comes back to bite us.


January 28th, 2014 at 3:19 PM ^

I agree. I think the national knock on him is supposedly his wonky motion and arm strength. As to the first: results. As to the second: are you kidding me?

I'm sorry if the perfectly placed pass didn't come in at Navarre-ian rocket speed while it arced perfectly over the coverage and arrived at the precisely perfect moment.

I'm not the recruiting guy around here and that's good because I'm homerific for the players I've seen. But it's been hard to edit one QBs article after another by Brandon and Ace this year that details Michigan's recruitment of all these other guys for 2015 when Little Favre is playing a mile from my parents' house.



January 28th, 2014 at 4:37 PM ^

kids like him are the kind they love to see fall in their lap as bigger programs chase names with more hype. always thought this kid will be one of those 3 year starter types that aren't winning Heismans but plenty of games.


January 28th, 2014 at 3:10 PM ^

Former Catholic Leaguer....this post gave me chilling flash backs of getting stomped by Brother Rice every year.  I think we beat them when I was a JV freshman, so we had that going for us.  Great program.


January 28th, 2014 at 8:03 PM ^

Of course he can recruit, he's been the school's Director of Admissions for years.  He recruits 200 8th graders every year and convinces their parents to pay $11k in tuition, when the alternatives are excellent public schools in Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills that cost nothing.  I will grant you, the job just got a little tougher when you lose an icon like Al Fracassa.

- sincerely, tired of whiny public school alumni


January 28th, 2014 at 4:32 PM ^

Went to his QB camp from 1981-1984 and he was an awesome instructor. Brennan, Yarema, and Terry Andrisiak were all asst. coaches at the camp. 

Glad he went out on top.


January 29th, 2014 at 7:53 AM ^

Yea, he played for the Irish. QB'd them to an embarrassing win over us at home my senior year. Prior to the game he said they'd win by 3 touchdowns. They win 26-7 and DID in fact go for 2 at one point. I believe with all my heart Holtz did that to make good on his QBs prediction. Fuck Holtz and the Irish. Terry was a good dude though.


January 29th, 2014 at 1:34 PM ^

Michigan hasn't gotten a recruit from him in ages other than walk-ons. But not a single person I've talked to who played for him said he steered them there. Even Bo said he got a fair shake (and then he didn't get the kid).

So I was basically saying "I don't know." On one hand nobody ever felt pressured to go to MSU. On the other hand they all went to MSU and players coming out of there were always assumed to be MSU's-unless the same way Cass Tech kids were assumed to be Michigan kids.

Herrington didn't shuffle his kids to State either, but nobody from North Farmington went to Michigan until that one safety who wore #5 omigod I can't remember his name now--was on the 2008 team you know who I'm talking about STEWART! Even then it wasn't until Ojemudia and Funchess that Michigan cracked that nut.

If Michigan does sign Malzone, he'll be the first of 12 BCS prospects since 2002. So yeah, I'm being a Janus, but with good reason.