Meeting or no meeting, The Birdie is psyched to make Westmoreland County playoff picks

Wednesday, November 2, 2022 | 6:25 PM

Last week: 8-3 (72.7%)

Season: 96-24 (80%)

The playoffs get the Birdie’s wings flapping. He is one proud peacock at this time of year, walking the halls at work confident in his postseason picks.

But he still gets bummed out there is no WPIAL pairings meeting, a time-honored tradition that went away in 2020.

“Thanks a lot, covid. Man, the fun me and my media compadres used to have in Green Tree waiting for the big reveal,” Birdie said, ripping into a week-old Mallo Cup from the trick-or-treat bag he brought home from Belle Vernon. “We always stopped for pizza on the way dahn to the Radisson or DoubleTree. Extra cheese — on the pie and on every story we told on the drive there.

“Then we would go to the big ballroom and wait out the rules announcements, the atta-boys and the lame bus driver jokes until the glorious brackets hit the overhead projector.

“Ah, those were the days.”

In lieu of the big “Dog and Pony Show,” as he used to call it, the Birdie had a playoff bracket party in the company parking lot. He invited coaches and mascots, but only the Southmoreland Scottie dog and Latrobe Wildcat showed up.

Somehow, they knew the party was four days earlier.

“I realized my invitation said the party was on Tuesday, but the pairings came out Saturday afternoon. What da …? I mean, who does a bracket reveal on a Saturday afternoon? Oh well, it was more pizza for me and that dog and cat. They don’t get to the playoffs very often and were grateful for the fun time.

“Plus, the early Birdie gets the first gummy wormy.”

The Birdie took three losses last week — he regrets picking Norwin and should have known better than to go against Belle Vernon — but he is focused and ready to get back to work for the postseason.

Penn-Trafford (6-4) at Pine-Richland (7-3): Pine-Richland will give the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions trouble with its pass rush, making the Warriors one-dimensional. Pine-Richland, 20-14

Woodland Hills (5-5) at Franklin Regional (6-3): Look for Woodland Hills to hit a few big pass plays, but the Panthers will plow forward with their rushing attack. Franklin Regional, 28-14

Latrobe (6-4) at Highlands (9-1): Latrobe has a chance here, but the Golden Rams can score quickly so the Wildcats can’t fall behind early. Too many big plays and field position will sink the Wildcats. Highlands, 27-14

East Allegheny (7-3) at Mt. Pleasant (6-4): A tough 8-9 game to pick, especially with Mt. Pleasant playing at home. Take the Vikings by a slim margin because the Wildcats will score some points. Mt. Pleasant, 28-21

Southmoreland (4-6) at West Mifflin (5-5): The Birdie thinks the Western Hills is a better conference than the Interstate. West Mifflin won’t be the school to give up Southmoreland’s first playoff win. West Mifflin, 18-13

Western Beaver (7-3) vs. Ligonier Valley (7-3): Ligonier Valley will get its first WPIAL playoff win, but the Rams will have to earn it at Offutt Field. They won’t lose to a Beaver County teams two years in a row. Ligonier Valley, 27-20

Jeannette (3-7) at Bishop Canevin (9-1): Jeannette is fortunate the WPIAL takes 16 teams to the Class A playoffs. The drawback of only winning three games is drawing the top seed. Look away, Jayhawks fans. Bishop Canevin, 49-7

Rochester (5-4) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (8-2): The Eastern Conference did not get much love from the WPIAL committee, but that only stands to motivate teams like GCC. Greensburg Central Catholic, 20-13

Monessen (6-4) at Fort Cherry (7-3): Fort Cherry will look comfortable at home, whereas Monessen will be sluggish after a long road trip. Monessen’s best days lie ahead. Fort Cherry, 33-25

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