The Birdie gets out his calculator and makes A-K Valley playoff picks

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Wednesday, November 3, 2021 | 6:52 PM


Last week: 8-1 (88.9%)

Overall: 78-27 (74.3%)

If there’s one question the Birdie gets asked more than any other, it’s “Do you want fries with that?”

A close second is, “How do you make your picks? It’s like you’re a fortune teller who can see into the future.”

On the eve of the playoffs, the Birdie will explain his methods. He uses a very scientific scale called the Birdie Power Index to make his selections.

To illustrate the system, the Birdie will show in detail how he arrived at his pick for the New Castle-Highlands Class 4A meeting.

1. Point differential: Highlands is a plus-143 for the season. New Castle is a minus-12. That’s 153 points for Highlands.

2. Proximity to Sheetz: Birdie needs Wi-Fi and a couple of Schmuffins before and after every game. You can walk to Sheetz from Highlands’ stadium. Ten points for Highlands.

3. Common opponents: There is one: Mars. Highlands beat the Fightin’ Planets, 22-7. New Castle won 40-14. Nine points for New Castle.

4. Mascot friendliness to birds: Golden Rams generally leave their feathered friends alone. Hurricanes, especially red ones, are a nightmare for a bird. Ten points for Highlands.

5. Strength of schedule: New Castle’s schedule was tougher. It included Aliquippa and Central Valley. Highlands’ toughest game was against Hampton. Eighty points for New Castle.

6. Strength of victories: Highlands and New Castle lost those three aforementioned games, so it’s important to look at best wins. New Castle has one win over a playoff team (Montour). Highlands also has one, but it was over Class 3A Burrell. Eighty points for New Castle.

7. Cash payments: Birdie has amazing prognostication abilities. He does not have ethics. He did not receive any payments for this pick, which he’s not happy about.

Add it all up and it’s Highlands by four. You can’t argue with it. Simple math.

Now for the rest of Birdie’s playoff picks.

New Castle (6-4) at Highlands (7-3): On top of Birdie’s flawless analysis, the Golden Rams come into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. Highlands, 24-20

Fox Chapel (4-6) at Upper St. Clair (6-4): Foxes QB Collin Dietz suffered an injury last week, and Upper St. Clair has won four of five with the lone loss by three points to No. 1 Moon. Upper St. Clair, 30-10

Plum (3-7) at Hampton (10-0): The Mustangs are coming off a clutch win over Greensburg Salem, but when these teams met in Week 6, the Talbots won 35-7. Hampton, 35-14

Ambridge (2-8) at Freeport (5-4): The Yellowjackets may be 5-4, but they don’t have a bad loss on the schedule. All four teams that beat them are in the playoffs. A second-place finish in the section coupled with a playoff win makes this a real strong year for Freeport football. Freeport, 28-6

Burrell (3-7) at Mt. Pleasant (5-4): When these teams met in Week Zero, the Vikings rolled to a 40-7 win. The Bucs are a better team now than then — they’ve won three of four — but that’s a lot of ground to make up. Mt. Pleasant, 30-14

Springdale (6-4) at West Greene (8-2): The Dynamos are a sleeper in the Class A bracket. They’ve won three of four with the only loss a close one to Clairton. The Pioneers, though, have built a running back factory down in Greene County and have won eight straight. West Greene, 28-14

California (7-2) at Leechburg (8-2): One of the toughest first-round games to pick in any class. Neither team has a bad loss. Both score a ton of points. The Blue Devils finally get to host a playoff game, and home field will make the difference. Leechburg, 28-27

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