Birdie off his game as Westmoreland County football teams open in mostly empty stadiums

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Thursday, September 17, 2020 | 5:38 PM


Last week: 7-6 (53.8 %)

Season: 7-6 (53.8 %)

The opening week of an ominous 2020 season has the Birdie feeling a certain kind of way.

He is thrilled that football is back and pleased to see WPIAL schools manage a mostly smooth opening week.

He was impressed with a number of local teams — and severely unimpressed by his own lackluster performance.

“It just wasn’t the same,” the area’s leading prognosticator said with a sigh. “It was too quiet and there was no atmosphere. I mean, it was football, yes. And man, do we have some good quarterbacks around these parts. But I could hear the left tackle snap his chin strap in pregame and the trombone player pull in a breath before he tooted. (Huh?).”

Wait, there’s more.

“There were hardly any fans and energy was lacking. So was the free food,” he continued. “I had to leave at halftime to zip through a drive-thru last Friday. That costs me cash. I don’t get per diem.”

Normally, he grabs a couple of Hempfield band subs, but they were not available.

The Birdie was glad to see local teams play, despite the “off” feeling at stadiums.

“One positive was that I got prime parking,” he said. “I didn’t have to sit outside the gates with rogue fans. They’d eat me alive.”

The awkward vibe must have had an effect on his picks. Mr. Birdie’s opening record was a pedestrian 7-6, a showing he called both embarrassing and amateurish and he vows to rally in Week 2.

“We all need to settle in,” he said. “It’s going to take some time. Let’s just be glad we all got through that first week together. I’ll just have to make the most of this new ambience — for now.”

Now, his take on Week 2:

Friday

Central Catholic (1-0, 1-0) at Norwin (0-1, 0-1)

Norwin looked better offensively at times in its opener but the Knights will have trouble with Central’s defensive pressure. Central Catholic, 31-13

Seneca Valley (0-0, 0-0) at Hempfield (1-0, 1-0)

With Seneca Valley sitting out last week, the Birdie doesn’t have any fresh film on the Raiders. But he liked what he saw from Hempfield in Week 1. Hempfield, 24-14

West Mifflin (0-1, 0-1) at Belle Vernon (1-0, 1-0)

Belle Vernon posted a nice shutout in its opener against McKeesport, while West Mifflin was blanked by Thomas Jefferson. Look for the Leopards defense to keep slowing the run. Belle Vernon, 28-7

Knoch (0-1, 0-1) at Greensburg Salem (0-1, 0-1)

Look for the Golden Lions to finally get over the 700-win hurdle with a sound effort on both sides of the ball against the visiting Knights. Greensburg Salem, 20-9

Derry (0-1, 0-1) at Deer Lakes (0-1, 0-1)

A fairly even matchup in many ways, the Birdie thinks Derry will show improvement after last week’s showing, especially with the running game. Derry, 27-24

Southmoreland (0-1, 0-1) at South Allegheny (0-1, 0-1)

Southmoreland is back to slinging it around the field and it is that passing attack that will give South Allegheny issues. Southmoreland, 28-22

Yough (1-0, 0-0) at South Park (1-0, 1-0)

Is Yough turning a corner? The way the Cougars played last week, it sure seems that way. But the defense will have to step up in a big way this week. South Park, 22-15

Greensburg CC (0-1, 0-1) at Imani Christian (0-0, 0-0)

If GCC ever needed a bounce-back week, this is it. Look for the Centurions to tighten up some things defensively and continue to get to the end zone. GCC, 19-12

Bentworth (0-1, 0-1) at Monessen (0-1, 0-1)

An inauspicious start last week for Monessen will give way to a better result against the Bulldogs, with the Greyhounds setting the tone early. Monessen, 18-14

Franklin Regional (0-1) at Fox Chapel (0-1)

After getting hit with a bucket of ice water to open the season against Gateway, Franklin Regional will face a much different opponent in the Foxes. Franklin Regional, 17-10

Latrobe (0-1) at Mt. Pleasant (1-0)

The Birdie likes these cross-classification matchups between local teams because they almost always produce good games. This one won’t disappoint. Latrobe, 26-22

Ligonier Valley (0-1) at Frazier (1-0)

It was a tough start for Ligonier Valley in its second WPIAL stint and this week won’t offer much of a break for the Rams. Frazier, 27-14

Penn-Trafford (1-0) at Peters Township (0-0)

The law of averages would indicate Penn-Trafford is due to clip the Indians, and with a game under their belts, the Warriors will prevail in a dandy. The Birdie will be watching to see if any game balls switch hands after the game (inside joke). Penn-Trafford, 32-27

Saturday

Jeannette (0-1, 0-1) at Riverview (0-1, 0-1)

Jeannette, still recovering from an energy-expending loss to rival Clairton in a rousing opener, will rebound nicely with big plays in Oakmont. Jeannette, 36-8

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