Al Fracasaa and co. were up early and working hard on Wed morning, putting in a grueling yet productive four hour practice session from 8-12 am on their third day of camp. A master motivator, Fracassa oversaw the practice, chipping in with encouraging words and inspiring, fiery rants whenever he felt necessary. Watching from the sideline, I got so jacked up, I was ready to get into uniform and join the fray. Playing for a coach like Fracassa is a honor and with the reverence and respect his players afford the aging legend, I think they understand and appreciate that.
In case there was any doubt, let me just reassure the masses that this year's Warriors squad is gonna be a juggernaut. They've got their bases covered all around the field - speed, skill, strength, and size across the board. Senior QB Frankie Popp, entering his third season as a starter, looked sharp as ever, his timing with ace all-state receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley well on its way to mid-season form before the second week in August is complete. Senior RB Jeff DeClaire was on his game too, hitting the holes hard and picking up blitzing schemes and blocking packages like a true veteran. After sharing carries last year with Danny Henneghan, he will be the Warriors primary ball toter in '09. Newcomer Adam Gorski displayed a led foot as the team's freshly-minted placekicker. A stud soccer and hoops player, Gorski was brought onto the football team this summer to replace a graduated Ryan Kelly. So far, it looks like it was a good move and could even get the team a win or two come the regular season.
With all the weapons available for OC Dave Sofran - a former Warriors QB himself -, lets not forget the stellar Rice 'D'. The unit is led by senior linebacker Justin Cherocci, an instinctive playmaker who led the state of Michigan in tackles in '08. Cherrochi is a local prep version of Brian Urlacher or Chris Spielman, a tenacious tackling monster with a no-nonsense attitude to boot. He was all over the field today, going sideline to sideline with reckless abandon. Lurking in Cherocchi's shadow, could be the next great Warrior defender, and will team with Cherocchi to possibly make up the best linebacker duo in the county. I am talking about junior Timmy "Jumbo" Hamilton, the leading tackler on the "08 Warriors JV team. Jumbo will play on the outside,as well as a little fullback. He's raw, but wow what a talent. Junior safety Jimmy Pickens, who will also spell De Claire at the tailback spot, will captain the Rice secondary. One of the hardest hitters in the area, Pickens, spawning from a long line of Warriors gridiron greats, has a good chance to end up at the next level as a free safety.