Birdie eyes up the A-K Valley’s biggest stories to watch in football season’s 2nd half

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 | 4:51 PM

Last week: 8-2 (80%)

Overall: 39-12 (76.5%)


The Birdie doesn’t want to alarm anyone, but the high school football season is already half over.

“Before you know it, I’ll be heading south for the winter faster than the Steelers are heading south in the AFC North standings,” the crestfallen pigskin picker said.

Before he starts packing up his sunglasses and sunscreen and picking out the best beach to spend his January and February, the Birdie stopped to make note of the three stories he’s most looking forward to watching the rest of the way.

Highlands: A loss to conference-leading Hampton last week notwithstanding, the Golden Rams are a contender in the Greater Allegheny. A stout defense and breakthrough sophomore ballcarrier Luke Bombalski lead the way.

Kiski Area: This is the kind of football team the Birdie likes to kick back with a cold 16-ouncer of sugar water and watch. The Cavaliers dominate the line of scrimmage and take names on defense. Season-ending matchups with Pine-Richland and Penn Hills will be can’t miss.

Leechburg: Birdie’s been saying all along that the Blue Devils are America’s team — the squad anyone without a particular rooting interest should be pulling for. The first five weeks have cemented that status.

Yeah, Leechburg hasn’t made the playoffs since 1988 — the longest such active streak in the WPIAL — and that’s a good reason for root for the team, but forget all that. The Blue Devils deserve your support because of their fun factor. Running back Braylan Lovelace and quarterback Thomas Burke are two of the most dynamic playmakers in Class A.

When Burke hit a flea-flicker on the first play from scrimmage for a 55-yard touchdown to Logan Kline last week, Birdie immediately put in his order for a Blue Devils hoodie and hat.

“This is what high school football is all about,” he cooed.

Now, with no further cooing, here are his picks for Week 5.

Kiski Area (5-0, 0-0) at North Hills (3-2, 0-0): The Cavaliers had a nice, well-balanced nonconference schedule to get them ready for this Northeast opener. They’re ready. Kiski Area, 20-6

Shaler (2-3, 0-0) at Fox Chapel (2-3, 0-0): In their last three games, the Foxes have won twice and given a powerful Moon team a good game. Fox Chapel, 24-14

Indiana (3-2, 1-1) at Knoch (1-4, 0-2): The Greater Allegheny looks better than we gave it credit for preseason. No easy games for the Knights. Indiana, 29-15

Plum (1-4, 1-1) at Highlands (4-1, 1-1): The Mustangs got their first win last week, but this week’s hill is tougher to climb. Highlands, 34-21

Deer Lakes (2-3, 2-0) at East Allegheny (2-3, 1-1): After some real tough times, the Lancers have got to be feeling good after back-to-back shutout wins. East Allegheny is tougher opponent, but this is anybody’s game. East Allegheny, 21-20

Freeport (1-3, 0-0) at Valley (0-5, 0-2): Having their schedule thrown off kilter by covid cancellations the last two weeks, the Yellowjackets must be looking forward to the relative normalcy of a conference game. Freeport, 30-12

North Catholic (5-0, 2-0) at Burrell (0-5, 0-1): The Trojans have looked like a juggernaut through five weeks. North Catholic, 34-6

Summit Academy (0-5, 0-0) at Apollo-Ridge (1-3, 0-0): Don’t look now, but the Vikings are getting healthier and into a rhythm in time for their conference opener. Apollo-Ridge, 28-0

Greensburg C.C. (3-2, 1-1) at Springdale (3-2, 0-2): Maybe the toughest game to pick on the board. Both teams lost narrow decisions to surprising Bishop Canevin. Both have weapons. Springdale, 22-21

Imani Christian (2-2, 1-1) at Riverview (0-4, 0-2): Don’t count the Raiders out in this one. They’ve got a shot at their first win. Imani Christian, 13-12

Leechburg (4-1, 1-1) at Jeannette (1-4, 1-1): America’s Team gets its revenge for some lopsided losses to the Jayhawks over the years. Leechburg, 50-6

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