Country Day, Brother Rice football teams march on in 2012 playoffs

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 7, 2012

 Running back Khalil Rivers and the Country Day football team beat Notre Dame Prep 14-12 in a D-4 district final. DCD faces Grosse Ile in the regional round this weekend.

Running back Khalil Rivers and the Country Day football team beat Notre Dame Prep 14-12 in a D-4 district final. DCD faces Grosse Ile in the regional round this weekend.

Photo by David Schreiber

PONTIAC — He talked with a smile, but there was a certain seriousness to Dan McLean following last weekend’s Division 4 district final.

His Beverly Hills Country Day football team had moved on, but as he said to his players following the game, “we did so by the skin of our teeth.”

Still, when you’re playing in the chill of November, there’s no such thing as an ugly win.

“This was high school football at its finest,” McLean said after a 14-12 victory Nov. 3 at Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. “Our guys rallied when they had to. We made just enough big plays to find a win.”

Country Day built a 14-0 lead with 2:10 remaining in the third quarter, but then watched as Prep seemed to take the game over.

The Fighting Irish scored with 10 seconds remaining in the frame, and were set to cut the deficit in half.

That’s when Gianmarco Rea altered the entire night with one hand, blocking the ensuing extra point and keeping Prep eight points back.

Country Day allowed another touchdown with 1:19 remaining in regulation, but Prep was forced to go for two, and the attempt was driven back when the entire defensive front of Country Day engulfed Prep quarterback Brenden Newvine.

“There was a lot of relief on the sideline,” McLean said when asked about his defense’s play on the 2-point conversion. “But we’ll take it.”

Country Day, 9-2 with the district title, will host Grosse Ile High this coming weekend in regionals.

A date and time were not available press time.

“We don’t know a ton about them, except that they run a no-huddle spread and can put up some points,” McLean said of Grosse Ile (10-1), which beat Dearborn Heights Robichaud 70-51 in its district final, one week after sneaking past Harper Woods Chandler Park Academy 14-12 in the opener. “We expect another hard-fought game. We’ll have to be better than we were tonight. We’ll have to re-establish our offense the way we played all year. At the same time, I give a lot of credit to Prep. That’s a good football team we beat.”

Rice to host Western
Birmingham Brother Rice kept its hopes alive of defending last year’s D-2 title Oct. 3, rolling past Oxford High 38-6 in a district final at home.

“It was a very good day,” coach Al Fracassa said simply. “We started out real strong, played a good game and then ended well. I was very pleased with the way the guys played.”

Rice scored on its first drive of the game, used its rushing attack to build a 21-0 lead, and never looked back.

“We did some good things with our running game, with the way our offensive line played,” Fracassa said. “We sort of set the tone how we wanted to.”

The Warriors (9-2) rushed for 313 yards on the day.

Rice running back Brian Walker finished the game with 16 carries for 132 yards and two touchdowns; Shon Powell added 91 yards and one touchdown; and Greg Marzec rushed for 29 yards and returned an onside-kick attempt by Oxford (7-4) for a touchdown.

The win now sets Rice up with a date at Walled Lake Western (9-2) this coming weekend with a trip to the semifinals on the line.

A date and time were not available at press time.

“We haven’t seen very much of them, but we know they have some good players, some real good athletes,” Fracassa said.

The teams have played just twice before, a 55-0 playoff-opening win by Rice in 2004 and a 28-14 Rice win in the first week of the 2000 season.

“We work with them in our summer passing league, and we know they can throw the ball around,” Fracassa said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”