The Birdie gets in the zone, makes Week 5 picks in A-K Valley football

Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | 5:43 PM

As 7 p.m. approached last Friday night, The Birdie was tapping away feverishly at his laptop like a hungry chicken pecking at some feed.

He decided not to attend a game in person this week like he normally does, instead declaring he was working on a project that would be the future of high school football.

“Settle in,” he shouted to pretty much no one in particular as everyone who normally would be in the office was out covering a game, “for three hours of commercial-free football.

“It’s RedZone, but for A-K Valley football games,” he said with a grin.

The Birdie frantically minimized and maximized the windows open on his laptop, each showing a different game being broadcast by Trib HSSN.

“Let’s head over to New Kensington,” The Bird bellowed, doing his best Scott Hanson impression, just before Valley’s Darnell Coaston took off on a 55-yard run.

“Now let’s check in with Leechburg,” The Birdie said, tossing to the Blue Devils’ game with Clairton just as Jayden Floyd took off on a 61-yard TD run.

“Quickly, let’s get over to Natrona Heights,” he shouted, highlighting a 59-yard run by Highlands’ Darius Cherry.

There are some bugs The Birdie still needs to work out with the product, of course. For example, he missed three or four touchdowns because he was late maximizing a window while his hands were full of pepperoni pizza-flavored Combos.

Still, though, he’s sure of one thing.

“Maybe my RedZone isn’t quite ready for prime time,” he admitted in a rare burst of humility, “but it’s way better than whatever that junk NFHS tries to charge people $11.99 a month for. That’s a guarantee.”

The new method of consuming Friday night games paid off for The Birdie, who had his best week of the season.

“I went 12-1,” he boasted, “and it was really more like 12.5-0.5 because Freeport was the only game I got wrong and the Yellowjackets were winning at halftime.”

He vowed to try to do one-half better as he prepared his Week 5 picks.

Deer Lakes (4-1) at Knoch (4-1): The Birdie LOOOOVES this matchup. The Lancers’ hard-hitting defense against the Knights’ high-flying offense. It’s the Allegheny 6 opener, and it easily could decide the conference champ. Knoch, 28-21

Franklin Regional (3-2) at Plum (2-3): A tough spot for the Mustangs to stop a three-game skid. The Panthers were awesome against undefeated Shaler last week. Franklin Regional, 34-20

North Hills (1-4) at Fox Chapel (0-5): A little bit of a break in a brutal schedule for the Foxes, but still a really tough matchup to end a losing streak with. North Hills, 21-20

Kiski Area (1-4) at Indiana (2-3): The Cavaliers could put it together at any moment, but Indiana’s a sneaky good team. Indiana, 27-20

Highlands (4-1) at Mars (3-2): This was shaping up to be the game of the year, but Highlands is fighting injuries to key players and Mars is coming off a loss to Moon. Lots of question marks for both sides. Mars, 19-14

East Allegheny (3-2) at Valley (2-3): The Vikings have some dynamic playmakers, so don’t count them out, but the Wildcats are more consistent. East Allegheny, 34-21

Shady Side Academy (3-2) at Freeport (2-3): A couple of teams having up-and-down seasons. The Bulldogs have the best win on their resume (North Catholic), so they get the nod. Shady Side Academy, 28-27

Imani Christian (2-2) at Burrell (3-2): A fun matchup of star running backs in David Davis and Devin Beattie. Davis will provide a stern test for a very good Bucs defense. Imani Christian 28-20

Steel Valley (3-1) at Apollo-Ridge (1-4): Looks like the Ironmen are starting to round into form. Steel Valley, 21-7

Leechburg (3-2) at Frazier (0-5): A good bounce-back opportunity for the Blue Devils. Leechburg, 42-6

Riverview (3-2) at Jeannette (4-1): The Birdie can’t wait for this one. You know how Mike Tomlin talks about two dogs and one bone? This one might decide the final playoff spot out of the Eastern Conference. Riverview, 28-27

Union (4-1) at Springdale (1-4): The Dynamos take a break from the conference schedule to face the Scotties and star quarterback Braylon Thomas. Some break. Union, 42-13

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