Birmingham – Alex Malzone is ready to close out his career at Birmingham Brother Rice on a high note.
Malzone has played a major role in Brother Rice's current 31-game winning streak and will now try to lead the Warriors to their fourth straight Division 2 state championship. The Warriors, ranked No. 2 in The Detroit News' Super 20 poll, will host Warren Cousino in the first round of the state playoffs.
As good as Malzone's season was a year ago, when he completed 77 percent of his passes for 2,782 yards and 25 TD, his final season has been better -- and that's been with a target on his back.
Defenses have put the pressure on Malzone and he's met the challenge, including a 14-for-20 effort for 203 yards and 3 TD in a 28-21 win over Warren DeLaSalle in Week No. 4, when he was hit hard repeatedly by Eric Rogers and Co.
Malzone -- a four-star pro-style quarterback headed for Michigan -- was never better than the pair of victories over Orchard Lake St. Mary's. In a 28-20 Week 6 win, he set school records for completions (29) and passing yards (419) while throwing 4 TD. Then, in Saturday night's Prep Bowl at Ford Field, Malzone again picked apart OLSM's defense, completing 21-of-27 for 271 yards and four TD in a 35-28 win.
On the season Malzone has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,394 yards and 26 TD, with 80 of his 164 completions going to Grant Perry for 1,359 yards and 15 TD. He has thrown just three interceptions all season, and has 20 TD and just one pick in the last seven games.
"Both seasons have been great -- kind of similar in our big-game outcomes where we've come out on top," said Malzone. "I've just had a bigger impact this year because we've been a pass-first offense rather than a more balanced attack like we had a year ago.
"I'm most proud of the fact our team has stay focused -- since we've been ranked No. 1 and everyone's been coming after us. We had our best week of practice last week and hopefully that will continue the next five weeks and we'll get that fourth straight state title."
Malzone and Perry hooked up 50 times last season, including five times for 91 yards and two TD in the championship game win over Muskegon.
"We have great chemistry," said Malzone of Perry. "We worked hard all summer. Grant's my go-to guy and we've had other guys step up, like John Garry, Michael Roney and Brian Fortin, our tight end."
Fortin, who received an offer from Eastern Michigan, had two TD receptions in a 38-14 win over U-D Jesuit in Week No. 8, then Roney had a season-high six receptions in the Prep Bowl win over OLSM.
Malzone's goal is to lead Brother Rice to another championship at Ford Field during Thanksgiving weekend, then head to Ann Arbor, where he plans on attending the University of Michigan in January.
"I'm enrolling early, and I think that's the right decision for me," said Malzone. I'll get a head start in classes and be able to play in spring practice, and I'm excited about that.
"Sure, they (Wolverines) haven't had the year they wanted, but they're pretty young and I think in the next couple of years they will be back."