Brother Rice begins new chapter with Dave Sofran as head coach

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. - His smile said it all.

Dave Sofran has been asked the same question a hundred different ways.

"How do you follow up the greatest coaching career in the history of Michigan high school football?"

But after his first practice as Brother Rice's head coach, Sofran could only smile.

He was home.

"Little butterflies are natural, but once you get going, it's smooth sailing from there," Sofran said Tuesday.

"It's a new challenge in my life, but a new phase of Brother Rice football."

What he follows up is no secret. Al Fracassa's 430 wins are the most in MHSAA history. The team is coming off three consecutive Division 2 state titles and is ranked at the top (or near it) in nearly every preseason poll.

To think about those factors every moment would overwhelm anybody. Sofran's approach is structured and prepared, but it's also calm and optimistic.

"You can deal with stress in different ways, but if you worry constantly about it, it's not good for your health. I'm just gonna take it one day at a time, and keep it positive."

Senior wide receiver Delano Madison said the comfort level with Sofran, who's been on the coaching staff for 15 years, has only helped the transition.

"When he steps in and calls plays, we believe in him. We won state championships behind him, so it's nothing new. The trust that we have in him isn't new. It grows more and more everyday," Madison said.

Sofran has been a part of up's and down's with the program, but this senior class is in rarefied air. Their only loss in the last three years, he recalls, was the first game of their freshman season.

"State championship. That's definitely the goal. Anything other than that would be an underachievement," senior quarterback Alex Malzone said.

Malzone's summer was filled with excitement, committing to Michigan and attending the national Elite 11 camp in Oregon. But like his coach, the theme is the same: he's home.

"Starting practice, this is definitely my favorite time of the year, and I can't wait to get it going again."

Malzone and Madison were the last two players off the field Tuesday, trailing behind their coach.

"This is home. Brother Rice is home to me," Sofran said, with another smile.

They all walked off to get locker assignments for the new season, and walked under a sign, perfectly placed at the entrance, reading 'Fracassa Field.'

There may be a new phase of Brother Rice football, but it's still being built on the same tradition.

Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli , but don't look for him in the box score of Brother Rice's 2005 state championship.