The Birdie can’t always get what he wants as A-K Valley football kicks off

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 | 4:02 PM

The Birdie was pecking at his plate from the salad bar at Ruby Tuesday, waiting for a friend to meet him for lunch the other day, when he realized it was way too early in the season to be dealing with a case of writer’s block.

“I’m about to have my 19th nervous breakdown,” the fabled prognosticator sighed, wiping flop sweat from his beak. “This is only the first week. It’s not even the first week. It’s Week Zero. My public expects witty banter and spot-on predictions, and I’ve got nothing. I know time is on my side. I have a couple days to come up with something. But man, this is a heartbreaker.”

The Birdie thought he might write about Leechburg’s opener with Jefferson-Morgan. The Blue Devils are an exciting team with a legitimate chance to snap the WPIAL’s longest playoff drought.

“I have a feeling that slump isn’t just going to be busted, it’s going to be shattered,” Birdie said.

He thought he might write about Freeport’s marquee matchup with Armstrong and WPIAL leading passer Cadin Olsen.

“Can’t wait to go to that one,” he squawked. “Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.”

He considering pontificating about Springdale taking on Deer Lakes.

“The Bird Man has lots of fans at both schools,” he said. “Hard to pick that one. Mixed emotions.”

Ultimately, he decided to write a column with as many Rolling Stones song titles in it as possible. There are nine. RIP, Charlie.

“Now start me up,” he said. “It’s time to pick some winners.”

Armstrong at Freeport: Freeport’s pass defense will face a final exam-caliber test during the first week of school. Says here they’ll pass. Freeport, 31-27

Burrell at Mt. Pleasant: It’s going to be tough for a team as young as Burrell to be firing on all cylinders in Week Zero. By Week 5, this pick might be different. Mt. Pleasant, 26-10

Butler at Kiski Area: Butler got better as last season went on and returns a boatload of starters. Kiski Area has the hosses to handle this one, but it probably won’t be easy. Kiski Area, 20-19

Central Valley at Knoch: Somebody has to open with Central Valley. Knoch drew the short straw. Central Valley, 48-6

Fox Chapel at Peters Township: It’s hard to get a handle on Class 5A because so many contenders graduated so many good players. Either way, Peters should be near the top. Peters Township, 34-13

Hampton at Valley: Hampton made the playoffs last year and returns six or seven starters on both sides of the ball. A tough opener for the Vikings. Hampton, 13-6

Leechburg at Jefferson-Morgan: Anyone who doesn’t have a favorite team to root for should adopt Leechburg this season. It’s time for a winning season. Leechburg, 28-15

OLSH at Apollo-Ridge: Apollo-Ridge was a steamroller in the regular season last year. They lost a lot to graduation, but they’ve got a lot coming back too. Apollo-Ridge, 30-20

Plum at Franklin Regional: After a breakout season, what’s Plum have in mind for an encore? An opening-night win, for starters. Plum, 40-13

Riverview at Shady Side Academy: A baseball playoff run fired up the Riverview athletic department. Carrying momentum through the summer is hard, though. Shady Side Academy, 19-14

Springdale at Deer Lakes: With Jeannette falling on hard times, might Springdale be the team nipping at Clairton’s heels in the Eastern Conference? Springdale, 40-20

University Prep at Highlands: This could be a special year for Highlands. They’ve got a lot of talent coming back. Highlands, 26-16

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