Bumper-to-bumper Westmoreland County traffic can’t slow down The Birdie

Wednesday, September 20, 2023 | 6:21 PM

Last week: 9-4 (69.2%)

Season: 32-15 (68.1 %)

The Birdie was almost late for a game last week because he had to wait in traffic on Route 30.

“Bumper-to-bumper from the 119 exit to Westmoreland Mall,” he said. “Never saw it like that. It tested my patience.

“I asked a guy driving a dump truck behind me to push my Chevette to the front of the pack.”

Hold on, Birdie. That is an infraction. Five yards.

The WPIAL changed a rule this season as not to allow ball carriers to be pushed forward to gain yards. Plays are over at the whistle.

“I was in four-exit territory, so I had to grind it out,” Birdie said. “Three yards and a cloud of cement dust. Like Belle Vernon’s coach says, it’s about that ‘sweat equity.’ I arrived just in time for kickoff.

“And that highway is now as smooth as my picks.”

Well, sort of.

The Birdie, down in the dumps over a 9-4 week but ready to bounce back, also got his picks in on time this week.

Norwin, I see you,” he said. “Southmoreland, I don’t even know you any more.”

Despite 15 losses already — about half as many of his defeats all of last year — the Birdie has been wearing his shades in the office and wants people to call him “Prime.”

“As Neon Deion says, ‘What separates us is that we expect to be great,’ ” Birdie said. “By ‘us’ he means he and I. We think alike.”

Now for the wordy Birdie’s Week 3 predictions:

Hempfield (1-3, 0-0) at Penn-Trafford (1-3, 0-0): A local clash that so often is decided up front. Penn-Trafford gets the nod with its size and depth. Penn-Trafford, 24-14

Norwin (2-2) at Woodland Hills (2-2): While Norwin has shown a propensity for opening the passing lanes, Woodland Hills will show the Knights how it’s done. Could be close early. Woodland Hills, 35-25

Latrobe (2-2, 0-1) at Laurel Highlands (1-3, 0-1): Last year’s game was a nail-biter at Latrobe. While the Birdie doesn’t see another 10-7 finish, he likes the Wildcats in another tight one. Latrobe, 21-16

Burrell (2-2, 1-0) at Yough (1-3, 0-1): The Allegheny Conference tends to present puzzling matchups because teams are of similar size and makeup. Yough can win this one, but it will have to stop the run. Burrell, 20-14

Derry (2-2, 1-0) at Apollo-Ridge (1-3, 0-1): Again, similar teams stylistically means their matchup will come down to who makes less errors. Derry is a scrappy bunch. Derry, 21-19

Ligonier Valley (2-2, 1-0) at Steel Valley (2-1, 1-0): Steel Valley has too much speed for the Rams, who will fall behind early. Steel Valley, 35-14

Springdale (1-3, 0-1) at Greensburg Central Catholic (2-2, 0-0): Big plays from all angles will propel the uptempo Centurions. Greensburg CC, 40-7

Monessen (1-3, 0-1) at California (3-1, 1-0): A clash of styles, here. Look for California to establish itself at the line of scrimmage early and wear down the Greyhounds. California, 28-12

Charleroi (0-3) at Jeannette (3-1): Shades of the old Century Conference. Jeannette will jump on the Cougars early and tell them to “get back.” The Jayhawks are surging. Jeannette, 30-13

Deer Lakes (3-1) at Southmoreland (3-1): This is the week Southmoreland fires up its passing game. The defensive backfield will be busy on both sides in a shootout. Southmoreland, 37-31

Freeport (2-2) at Mt. Pleasant (3-1): The final tune-up before conference play for these similar teams. More rushing yards wins. Mt. Pleasant, 33-26

Greensburg Salem (1-3) at East Allegheny (2-2): The Golden Lions will give the Wildcats good field position, and the hosts will pounce at home. East Allegheny, 28-14

Shaler (4-0) at Franklin Regional (2-2): The Franklin Regional defense had a big breakdown last week. The Titans will test the bruised unit. Shaler, 21-13

Thomas Jefferson (4-0) at Belle Vernon (3-0): Who made this Belle Vernon schedule? It’s like AP trigonometry tough. Both teams have offensive weapons, but the Leopards’ defense deserves a shoutout. Belle Vernon, 28-20

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