Recruiting & Scouting

Brother Rice's Fracassa on Cass Tech Game: "It's Going to be a Battle"

   | Dan Stickradt

Brother Rice's Fracassa on Cass Tech Game:  "It's Going to be a Battle"

DETROIT — Birmingham Brother Rice and Detroit Cass Tech have a lot in common these days, at least when it comes to football.

Both have tradition-rich programs with multiple college prospects on their respective rosters. Both finished the 2011 seasons with wins on the final weekend and both were state champions. Cass Tech surprised the field by winning the Division 1 state title after going 6-3 in the regular season. Brother Rice won the Division 2 state title after sneaking into the postseason field as an at-large team at 5-4.

Tomorrow night, one of them will open the 2012 campaign with a win, the other a loss.

The two powerhouse schools, both ranked in the top 10 preseason polls by multiple media sources, will tangle in the marquee match Saturday night at Wayne State University, as part of the Detroit Sport’s Commission’s annual Prep Kickoff Classic. The contest will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Adams Stadium and has been tabbed as one of Michigan’s premier opening-weekend clashes.

“It’s going to be a battle,” said 79-year-old Al Fracassa, Brother Rice’s veteran head coach who has seen his team play in multiple marquee openers throughout the decades.

Tom Wilcher, who is entering his 16th campaign as Cass Tech’s head coach, echoed those sentiments. “I expect that it’s going to be a great game,” predicted Wilcher, a former player for the University of Michigan. “How often do two (defending) state champs get to play each other to open up the season (the following year)?”

Both programs have the utmost respect for one another. After watching Cass Tech upset fellow state powerhouse Novi Detroit Catholic Central (49-13) in last year’s Division 1 title game — more like dismantle — Fracassa feels his team has its work cut out for them. Cass Tech has 14-plus players being courted by Division I and Division II colleges.

“I know that we are preparing for a very difficult challenge. Cass Tech is a very good football team. They have great size and speed and a lot of experience playing in the state finals,” said Fracassa. “I saw what they did to Catholic Central last year — and Catholic Central beat us last year.”

For Cass Tech, which won its first-ever state championship last season, it’s another chance to represent the city of Detroit.

“We have some good teams down here. Last year we were finally able to win it,” said Wilcher, whose team fell short in the Division 1 state semifinals in 2010. “We are looking forward to playing a program like Brother Rice. They are always one of the best in the state. It will be a great test for us.”

The Prep Kickoff Classic is the fifth annual kickoff event/showcase put on by the Metro Detroit Sports Commission. The event was previously called the Big Day Prep Showdown and was held at Eastern Michigan. The two-day event is slated for Aug. 24-25 and will feature six contests, including two games on Friday and four on Saturday.

Prep Kickoff Classic Schedule

Friday, Aug.24

4:30 p.m.: Dearborn vs. Clinton Twp. Chipppewa Valley

7:30 p.m.: Southgate Anderson vs. Woodhaven

Saturday, Aug. 25

11 a.m.: Oak Park vs. Detroit East Village Prep

1:30p.m.: Port Huron vs. Utica Eisenhower

4:30 p.m.: Southfield vs. Detroit King

7:30p.m.: Birmingham Brother Rice vs. Detroit Cass Tech