Birdie learns from experience, just like Apollo-Ridge, Plum and Springdale

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Thursday, October 1, 2020 | 3:50 PM


Last Week: 7-3 (70%)

Overall Record: 25-5 (83%)

For years, the Birdie has been building up his talents to get where he is today.

He started in the mail room, where he would drop off letters and chat with the sports guys as they shuffled into the office at night. Then he became a stringer and would take calls at night for scores and stats. The coaches and statisticians would always get mad because he asked more questions than he needed to, but he was just trying to learn as much as he could about high school football.

“It took time to get where I am today, ya know? How do you think I got this good?” the Birdie said. “I’m like a fine wine. I get better with age.”

A few teams in the A-K Valley are on that same path. They are getting better with age. Springdale, Plum and Apollo-Ridge, three teams with relatively young rosters the past few seasons, have jettisoned to the top of their divisions.

“Nothing like seeing kids who were little pipsqueaks a few years ago finally start to find their place on the field,” the Birdie squabbled.

As the Birdie’s time in the newsroom wore on, he started to become the prognosticator he is today. He learned how to calculate the possibility of a team winning a game and also used his deep knowledge of WPIAL football to prove his worth.

“It comes with experience, really. You win some and you lose some,” the Birdie squawked. “Me, I normally win, but no one has as much natural talent as I do.”

The same goes for some of the teams around the Valley. Some have seen success right away with young teams. The Vikings went 7-3 in the regular season just a year ago but lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. With the experience those young players received, don’t expect it to happen again.

The current juniors and seniors on Plum and Springdale, well, they’ve seen their fair share of losses the past two years.

“I can understand why they are beating up on teams now,” the Birdie said of the teams that are averaging a point differential of 29.6 and 26.6 respectively. “They are sick of losing. I mean, I’ve never felt that way, but I can completely understand. (Not really).”

With a few surprising teams on his mind, the Birdie made his Week 4 picks.

Highlands (1-2, 1-2) at Plum (3-0, 3-0): For the first time, in a long time, the newly ranked No. 4 Mustangs are revving up their engines and are cruising past their opponents. Their win over No. 2 Mars was just the start. They’ll continue their 2020 winning streak against Highlands, but with the Golden Rams defense, it won’t be as big as some may think. Plum, 17-10

Fox Chapel (0-3, 0-1) at Shaler (0-3, 0-1): Neither of these teams has really been able to stop anyone all season. Look for Fox Chapel to outscore Shaler in a sloppy battle. Fox Chapel, 28-14

North Hills (1-2, 1-0) at Kiski Area (1-1, 0-1): North Hills scored 35 points in Week 1 and has only scored one touchdown since. If Kiski Area playmaker Kenny Blake is healthy, expect the Cavaliers to earn a win in their first Friday night game of the season. Kiski Area, 21-14

Knoch (0-3, 0-3) at Indiana (1-2, 1-2): The Knights have to get a win sooner or later, right? This could be their best shot, but Indiana is coming off a win where it scored 56 points. Indiana, 35-14

Burrell (1-2, 1-1) at North Catholic (3-0, 3-0): The Trojans handed Burrell an ugly loss last season, and the Bucs are heading into Week 4 banged up after a battle with a tough Apollo-Ridge team. North Catholic, 28-7

East Allegheny (2-1, 1-1) at Deer Lakes (0-3, 0-3): The Lancers are young and inexperienced this year. Don’t look for anything to change against a tough team like East Allegheny. East Allegheny, 28-0

Valley (1-2, 1-2) at Freeport (2-1, 2-0): The Vikings are coming off their first win of the season, but they run into a tough Freeport team. The Yellowjackets will deliver another strong performance on their home field. Freeport, 21-7

Jeannette (1-2, 1-2) at Leechburg (1-2, 1-2): The Jayhawks are strong as always, and it seems like the Blue Devils are still trying to gear back up after their loss to Clairton. Jeannette, 35-14

Riverview (0-3, 0-3) at Imani Christian (0-3, 0-3): Both teams are still looking for their first win. Seeing as the Raiders haven’t scored in double digits this year, Imani takes this one. Imani Christian, 14-7

Springdale (3-0, 3-0) at Greensburg Central Catholic (1-2, 1-2): The Dynamos are on a roll for the second straight season. Don’t look for them to stop anytime soon as they travel to Greensburg Central Catholic. Springdale, 35-10

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