When Orchard Lake St. Mary's kicks off against Birmingham Brother Rice on Friday at Msgr. Milewski Field, it will mean more than Brother Rice head coach Al Fracassa's first attempt at win No. 400 in a storied career.
It will also mean the first chance at win No. 199 for Eaglets head coach George Porritt.
Perhaps most importantly, the winner will gain crucial favor in the tight Catholic Central Division standings.
Fracassa already has more victories than any other high school football coach in state history and seven state titles to his credit, but the Warriors' head coach is modest as he heads into Friday's 7 p.m. kickoff.
"It would be kind of nice," Fracassa told mLive.com in a story published Thursday. "But I'm just trying to see what I can do to win a game."
Fracassa has his hands full in that regard. After a against Toledo (OH) St. John's Jesuit, St. Mary's bounced back with three consecutive victories by three touchdowns or more against Highland Park, Detroit University of Detroit Jesuit and Columbus (OH) St. Francis de Sales.
Brother Rice are doing quite well, too, with strong victories against Detroit Martin Luther King Jr. and Ann Arbor Pioneer to their credit in addition to looking great against .
Fracassa is 9-12 in his career against St. Mary's. The series began in 1987; Fracassa has coached the Warriors since 1969.
Friday also marks homecoming at St. Mary's, as well as a bit of a true homecoming for linebacker James Ross. The star senior recruit, who has verbally agreed to play at the University of Michigan next fall, has overcome a leg injury that hampered him earlier this season.
"He’s just now getting a hundred percent,” Porritt told mLive. “He plays the game with a lot of passion. He can take control of our defense.”
The Eaglets will need a healthy Ross in order to take the proverbial driver's seat in the division.
Both teams have 4-1 overall records. Brother Rice's one loss came in a division game against Warren De La Salle, and the Eaglets take on De La Salle — which also is 4-1 overall — next week. The week after that, St. Mary's welcomes a stout Novi Catholic Central team, which is 5-0.