November 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

Tom Markowski

Tom Markowski's prep picks: Brother Rice wants happy ending to state finals trip

Birmingham — Al Fracassa has coached in 11 state finals.

But the one he remembers most isn't a victory.

It's that 2002 loss to Lowell.

"That was a terrible loss," the Birmingham Brother Rice coach said. "That quarterback was so good. That stands out because we didn't give them a game."

In that game, Brother Rice trailed Lowell, 17-14, at halftime before being dominated in the second half.

Lowell quarterback Mark Caitlin rushed for 259 yards and passed for 152. His total offense was 141 yards more than Brother Rice's team total.

But last season Brother Rice exacted some revenge, dropping Lowell, 24-14, in the final.

That gave Brother Rice a 7-4 mark in the final, where it will play again at 1 p.m. today against Muskegon, the state champion in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Pick: Muskegon by 6

State finals

All games are at Ford Field

Division 1

Detroit Cass Tech (11-2) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (9-4), 1 p.m. Saturday: Cass Tech whipped C.C. in the final last season. Cass Tech might be better this year. QB Jayru Campbell has another year of experience and maybe he'll throw one more TD pass this time. Look for C.C. to force the game to be decided in the fourth quarter.

Cass Tech by 7

Division 3

Grand Rapids Christian (12-1) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's (11-2), 7 p.m. Saturday: This is St. Mary's' fourth consecutive trip (fifth in six years) to the final. Christian just might be the best team in the state, regardless of class size. St. Mary's has defeated the defending Division 1 (Cass Tech) and 2 (Birmingham Brother Rice) champions.

Christian by 7

Division 4

Detroit Country Day (11-2) vs. Grand Rapids South Christian (10-3), 7:30 tonight: This could be one of the more closely contested finals. South Christian lost to Grand Rapids Christian by 10 points; Country Day nearly didn't get out of its district (14-12 victory over Pontiac Notre Dame Prep).

Country Day by 3

Division 5

Grand Rapids West Catholic (10-3) vs. Portland (12-1), 4:30 p.m. Saturday: West Catholic started 1-3 and had to rally from two-TD deficits in the fourth quarter in Weeks 8 and 9 just to qualify for the postseason. Portland is making its first final appearance.

Portland by 4

Division 6

Constantine (11-2) vs. Ithaca (13-0), 4:30 today: Ithaca defeated Constantine in last season's final. Constantine will be more competitive this time but will continue to struggle against the spread offense. Ithaca QB Travis Smith is back after throwing for 299 yards and rushing for 43 and two scores in last year's final.

Ithaca by 10

Division 7

Detroit Loyola (13-0) vs. Ishpeming (12-1), 10 a.m. Saturday: Ishpeming's defense (two fourth-quarter INTs) led the way last week. Loyola doesn't like to throw. Its power run game, led by senior RB Keymonne Gabriel, is overwhelming.

Loyola by 19

Division 8

Beal City (13-0) vs. Harbor Beach (12-1), 10 this morning: The last three opponents Harbor Beach played all won state titles. Beal City (1994, 2009) makes four. Beal City marched through the regular season but had trouble with Mt. Pleasant Sacred Heart in the district final.

Beal City by 7

Birmingham Brother Rice quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria leads his offense ... (Jose Juarez/Special to Detroit News)