Hempfield’s resurgence has Birdie all atwitter as he makes Westmoreland County Week 4 picks

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Wednesday, September 21, 2022 | 7:56 PM


Last week: 9-4 (69.2%)

Season: 37-8 (82.2%)

Hempfield fever has stricken the Birdie.

He came to work Monday morning with his face painted blue and white, and he was wearing a tattered Rick Druschel throwback jersey.

Management told him to change clothes, so he put on his Gino Caesar camo jersey and Reitz-approved bucket hat instead.

“They were calling me Little Caesar,” Birdie said. “Can’t wait for Friday’s game so I can eat pizza, pizza.”

The Birdie predicted five wins and a playoff berth for the Spartans, and they’re 4-0 already, a mark they have not achieved since 1971.

He went 9-4 last week but vows to be better.

Read on to find out if he sees Hempfield as a 5-0 team.

“The no-huddle Spartans have all the tools: seniors all over the field, depth, a bang-and-clang strength program that’s second to none and, most of all, belief they can win,” Birdie said. “They are for real because they’re bigger, faster and stronger. Teams can’t keep up with them.”

The Birdie has a theory he says glues everything together.

“The thing about this team is its Jeannette connections,” Birdie said. “They brought in winners to that coaching staff. And that H-back helps, too.”

“The mayor of Jeannette wants to talk about a merger … it already happened in football. See, you filter in outside guys who aren’t weighed down by the so-so culture at Hempfield and they give it fresh eyes. Head coach Mike Brown is another example — he’s a P-T guy. This team has a heartbeat again.”

Before the Birdie begins to wax nostalgic or gives a halftime speech, he hears Bob Kalp yelling, “Let’s go to work.”

He has games to pick.

Penn-Trafford (3-1, 0-0) at Hempfield (4-0, 0-0): The game the Birdie has been waiting for. The biggest Westmoreland conference game to come along in a while. He expects this game to be much closer than Hempfield-Latrobe, and he thinks Hempfield’s defense will make a statement. Hempfield, 23-20

Laurel Highlands (2-2, 1-1) at Latrobe (2-2, 0-1): Latrobe has dropped off a bit with back-to-back losses, but the Wildcats should get back on track at home. Latrobe, 28-21

Apollo-Ridge (2-2, 1-1) at Derry (0-4, 0-1): Both of these teams play on grass. But Apollo-Ridge would look fast on ice. Apollo-Ridge, 30-20

Steel Valley (3-0, 1-0) at Ligonier Valley (3-1, 1-0): With breakaway speed and a sound defense, Steel Valley will keep the Rams grounded, even if the game is in Ligonier. Steel Valley, 34-14

Yough (2-2, 1-0) at Burrell (3-1, 0-1): Burrell has a rushing attack that it dares teams to stop. Yough won’t be able to stop it. Burrell, 30-20

Greensburg CC (2-2, 0-0) at Springdale (0-4, 0-1): GCC is the second-highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference. Springdale is the lowest-scoring team. GCC, 42-7

California (4-0, 1-0) at Monessen (2-2, 1-0): Defense has been a staple for California in its quest to win the Tri-County South. The Trojans will pressure Monessen into bad decisions. California, 40-14

Belle Vernon (1-2) at Thomas Jefferson (3-1): A rivalry that doesn’t seem to lose its luster despite it being a nonconference game now, BVA-TJ could be a nail-biter. Birdie: “Belle Vernon’s schedule is tougher than AP calculus.” Belle Vernon, 23-16

East Allegheny (3-1) at Greensburg Salem (3-1): This could be a 3A playoff matchup. Greensburg Salem is starting to find rhythm on offense. Greensburg Salem, 17-14

Jeannette (1-3) at Charleroi (0-3): Jeannette is enjoying the soft spot on its schedule before a real grind hits in a few weeks. The Jayhawks make it a winning streak. Jeannette, 24-12

Mt. Pleasant (3-1) at Freeport (3-1): Another potential playoff matchup in 3A? Freeport has looked sharp on both sides of the ball, although Mt. Pleasant can run for days. Mt. Pleasant, 35-28

Southmoreland (2-2) at Deer Lakes (1-3): Whoever wins, passing will be the reason. Look for a lot of toe-tap sideline grabs and lobs into the end zone. Deer Lakes, 33-23

Woodland Hills (2-2) at Norwin (1-3): A young Woodland Hills team’s best days could lie down the road, but the Wolverines will move the ball against the punchless Knights. Woodland Hills, 27-17

Franklin Regional (2-1) at Shaler (2-2): A tough road stop for Franklin Regional on Saturday against an improved opponent that has some pop on offense. The Panthers will power their way to another win. Franklin Regional, 33-14

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