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FOOTBALL: Sofran tapped to succeed Fracassa at Brother Rice, assumes mantle at prep gridiron juggernaut

   | Scott Burnstein

FOOTBALL: Sofran tapped to succeed Fracassa at Brother Rice, assumes mantle at prep gridiron juggernaut

BIRMINGHAM – The search is over.

The historic Birmingham Brother Rice football program found its new leader Friday afternoon, when the Warriors’ issued a press release announcing the hiring of alum and longtime assistant, Dave Sofran, as the man that will replace legendary Al Fracassa as head coach.

Fracassa retired back in November after taking his team to a third straight state title and 55 years on the local high school sidelines, the past 45 spent at the helm of Brother Rice, where he personally constructed the Warriors into a national prep gridiron power (becoming the MHSAA's all-time winningest coach with 430 wins, snagging 10 state crowns and molding dozens of future college and pro players in the process).

Sofran, 35 and a former Brother Rice great on the football field himself, was Fracassa’s choice to succeed him and his right-hand man the past decade or so.

"It's such an honor, it's really something I can't even put into words to describe how I'm feeling," said Sofran of getting the nod. "I'm so grateful to the Brother Rice community, all the players, the coaches, the entire program have always being so supportive of me in my time here. I'm very, very excited."

Friday’s announcement that Sofran was taking the reins ended an arduous six-week search and selection process, one that was heavily scrutinized and speculated upon.

Sofran's name as well as the names of fellow Brother Rice alums, Scott Merchant (Chippewa Valley head coach), Steve Morrison (retired NFL linebacker, assistant coach at Eastern Michigan) and Mike Lodish (retired NFL defensive lineman, local businessman), defensive coordinator Adam Korzeniewski and Rochester Adams head coach Tony Patritto were all bandied about as top candidates for the job in the two months since Fracassa and the Warriors' hoisted their third Division 2 state championship in a row at Ford Field on Thanksgiving weekend.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that Sofran, Merchant, Morrison, Korzeniewski and Lodish were the finalists for the post. Reached for comment Tuesday, Brother Rice Athletic Director Reg Cavender denied those reports were accurate.

The last five years, Sofran has been the Warriors’ offensive coordinator and associate head coach. He’s been learning by Fracassa’s side with a whistle around his neck since 2000, following his return to the area after a successful college career as a team captain and starting wide receiver at Northeastern University in downtown Boston.

In high school (Class of 1996), Sofran was a two-time all-state pick, playing wide receiver, defensive back and quarterback for Fracassa in the mid-1990s.

Off the field, he currently works at Brother Rice as its Director of Admissions.

Fracassa leaves the cupboard in the Warriors football program sufficiently stocked with elite talent in the wake of his departure, a player-pool quite ample enough to get Sofran's tenure off and running nicely.

The 2014 Warriors are expected to be serious contenders for grabbing a fourth consecutive state championship in the fall, with senior quarterback Alex Malzone, one of the country's best high school field generals returning at the controls of a high-octane offense.