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ALBERT FRACASSA, the longtime football coach at Brother Rice High School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, is the 1997 NFL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR, NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE announced today.

Fracassa was nominated by one of his former players - tight end PETE MITCHELL, a Boston College graduate who is in his third year with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As the NFL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR, Fracassa will attend the Super Bowl as the NFL's guest and will receive a total of $5,000 in cash awards. In addition, his designated youth/high school football program will be given a $10,000 grant.

Fracassa also will be saluted by the NFL during the final regular-season week in a message that will appear during NBC's Jacksonville-Oakland telecast this Sunday afternoon, and on ABC's NFL Monday Night Football telecast this Monday. The message features Pro Football Hall of Fame coach TOM LANDRY.

"Coach Fracassa was like a second father to me," said Mitchell. "If you ask any athlete who played for Coach Fracassa, they would probably tell you he was one of the most influential people in their lives. He taught me more than the game of football -- he taught me the game of life."

During his 42-year coaching career, Fracassa's overall record as a head coach is 273 wins, 74 losses and seven ties. He has taken his teams to 11 playoffs.

Fracassa has been named Michigan Coach of the Year twice, Regional Coach of the Year 11 times and was inducted into the Michigan Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1995. Fracassa also stresses academic excellence by his players, resulting in 98 percent of his players through the years attending college.

"I believe the greatest task a coach has is striving to bring his team together as a unit," says Fracassa. "Each player, regardless of his ability, is part of the team. Teaching young players to play hard and by the rules is what sportsmanship is all about because character is what really counts in life."

The other finalists for the NFL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH OF THE YEAR were:

Coach School City Nominated By

Cliff Foust University School Cleveland, OH QB Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

Marion Glover Pine Bluff High School Pine Bluff, AR T William Roaf, New Orleans Saints

Bill Holt McAlester School District McAlester, OK QB Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys

Jimmy Wallace Northwestern High School Rock Hill, SC CB Jeff Burris, Buffalo Bills

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