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Five things we learned this weekend in high school football

Birmingham Brother Rice's Alex Malzone passes during second quarter action on September 28, 2013 at Detroit Catholic Central. / Kirthmon F. Dozier

1. Something special is brewing in Al Fracassa's final season.

Brother Rice (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) improved to 5-0 Saturday with its second consecutive last-minute win. Tied at 21 with 30 seconds left against Detroit Catholic Central (Novi), Alex Malzone threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Sparks, lifting the No. 37 Warriors to a 28-21 victory.

Last week, Brother Rice topped DeLaSalle (Warren) 26-24 despite trailing  24-20 with 20 seconds left. In that game, Malzone tossed a 34-yard prayer to Jason Alessi, who pulled it down in the corner of the end zone. Fracassa, 80, who has said he is retiring after this season, his 54th as a coach, has eight state titles and 420 wins,  sixth on the national list of most career wins.

VIDEO: Malzone's winning pass against DeLaSalle
2.  St. Joseph Regional (Montvale, N.J.) is not overrated.

The No. 14-ranked Green Knights destroyed a good Bergen (N.J.) Catholic team 49-6 on Saturday. St. Joseph, which won the Non-Public state Group 3 title last season, was ready for a playoff-type atmosphere against Bergen.

"Any time us, Bergen and Bosco get together, I don't think it's ever another regular-season game," said St. Joseph coach Tony Karcich. 

The Green Knights used a dominant defense against the Crusaders, holding them to minus-14 yards rushing. Last season, St. Joseph needed a near miracle to defeat Bergen Catholic, winning 38-37 in overtime when Bergen missed an extra point.

3. You can throw for 655 yards in a game and still lose.

Memorial (Madison, Wis.) quarterback Brandon Toman threw five touchdown passes for a state-record 655 yards, but a couple of key turnovers cost the Spartans in a 52-42 loss to Sun Prairie on Friday. One of the problems is Toman had to throw because Memorial managed only 38 yards on the ground. Also, the Spartans lost out on two scoring chances because of first-half turnovers. The previous state record was set by Jeff Skemp of Southwestern (Hazel Green), who threw for 612 yards in a game in 2002. Skemp was 6-10 and went on to be a standout basketball player at Wisconsin-Platteville.

4. Union won even though it lost.

Union (Roosevelt, Utah) fell 41-21 to Emery (Castle Dale) on Friday, but Union coach Matt Labrum and his staff showed something by taking a stand earlier in the week. Upset with his players' disrespect of teachers, poor grades and a potential case of cyber bullying, Labrum suspended his entire varsity team, all 50 players. He told his players if they wanted their jerseys back, they would have to earn it.

MORE: Union players earn the right to play

First, they had to do individual service projects over the weekend, with reports required. The Cougars spent Monday cleaning up around Roosevelt Junior High and serving food at a school banquet at Union High. Tuesday, they spent the day visiting with senior citizens at two separate nursing homes. On Thursday, the players who had earned their jerseys back held their only practice of the week. On Friday, after losing to Emery, they recited a quote on character they were required to memorize.

“We were just trying to help our kids,” Labrum told the Deseret News. “Things had gotten to a point, we felt we needed to take a stand.”
5. Justin May is the mascot of the week.

Justin May surprised his father, Bracken County (Brooksville, Ky.) assistant coach Ron May and his brother, defensive end Ryan May, with a unique welcome-home entrance on Friday. An Army Specialist, Justin had been in Afghanistan for nine months and returned home to Brooksville in stealth mode, wearing the Bracken County Polar Bears' mascot costume to the team's pre-game coin toss, then taking off his costume's helmet. May, who played for Bracken County before graduating in 2011,  nearly ruined the surprise by wearing military boots as part of his costume.



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