Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) legend Al Fracassa was named the 2013 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Coach of the Year.
Background: Fracassa, 81, announced before this season that it would be his last. His team went 14-0 to win its third Division 2 state title in a row and ninth state title overall under Fracassa. With a career record of 430-117-7, he ranks first in Michigan in wins and seventh nationally. In 54 seasons as a head coach, the last 45 at Brother Rice, he has sent more than 300 players to college and 13 players to the NFL.
Special season: After the first real close game (26-24 against De La Salle of Warren), I was just so thankful. I wasn’t even thinking about the rest of the season. After the Catholic Central (Novi) win (a 28-21 victory on a last-minute touchdown), I started to say, ‘Wow, maybe we could get into the playoffs and have a run.’ Our kids got a little more hungry. They practiced hard and wanted to see if they could get back there again. It was just a season that we will always remember.
First great team: My 1974 team was my first undefeated team. No one came close to beating us. We didn’t have the state playoffs then but that was a special team. Ten of the players went into Division I college football.
Coaching bug: At Michigan State, I played quarterback for Duffy Daugherty and (Clarence) “Biggie” Munn. We had Earl Morrall and Al Dorow, so I was always the guy picked to be the scout team quarterback. It was a great experience. We were the national champions in 1952. I learned a lot of football and I continued to learn as much as I could. To be successful, you have to love what you do. At first, maybe I expected too much. You soften up after a while. I really love my kids and I think they respect me and love me. We’re a family and that was one of the reasons we won. The players really liked each other. If a coach can get the players to like one another, that’s where the glue is. I am really proud of the way these kids played.