The Birdie gets playoff hopefuls fired up before making Week 9 A-K Valley picks

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Wednesday, October 25, 2023 | 6:16 PM


Last week: 8-3 (72.7%)

Season: 75-26 (74.3%)

With the final week of the regular season upon us, it was crystal clear to The Birdie what his column needed to be this week. It needed to be a motivational speech.

There are four teams in the A-K Valley fighting for their playoff lives this week — Highlands, Kiski Area, Deer Lakes and Freeport — and The Birdie felt it was his duty to fire those teams up.

Here’s the column he submitted:

“I stand before you today with fire in my heart, with belief in my soul and with a powerful vision for our future. We are here for a reason, a reason that goes beyond the game we’re about to play. We are here to seize a moment, to claim our destiny and to write our own story of triumph. We are here to make the playoffs!

“I want you to look around you right now. These faces, these brothers, these teammates, they are the ones who have been through the blood, sweat and tears with you. They’ve been there when you were at your lowest and celebrated with you at your highest. This is your family, and this is your team. And today, you play not just for yourself, but for each and every one of them.

“Now, let’s go out there and leave everything on that field. Let’s write our story, create our destiny and make this dream a reality. Let’s win this game and make those playoffs!”

Pretty good speech, right?

One problem: The Birdie didn’t write it.

On a hunch — nothing was spelled wrong in the column — the boss went back into The Birdie’s browser history and discovered all sorts of horrors. Most importantly, he saw The Birdie had typed the following query into Chat GPT: “Write a motivational speech for a high school football team that needs to win a game to make the playoffs.”

The Birdie cut, pasted and spent the rest of the afternoon playing slot machines at The Rivers.

So he’s been suspended for a week for plagiarism. Before he left, though, he made his Week 9 picks.

Freeport (3-6, 1-3) at Deer Lakes (6-3, 2-2): The Yellowjackets can make a five-game midseason losing streak a distant memory with just one win. The Lancers offense is humming, though. Deer Lakes, 34-21

Shaler (4-5, 0-4) at Fox Chapel (0-9, 0-4): The motivation for these two teams — to not finish winless in conference play — is strong, too. Shaler, 20-19

Armstrong (5-4, 2-3) at Kiski Area (4-5, 2-3): The Birdie’s been saying all year the Cavaliers were too talented to not make some noise in the Greater Allegheny. Now’s their chance. Kiski Area, 27-20

Hampton (3-6, 3-2) at Highlands (5-4, 2-3): The Golden Rams have been a difficult team to figure out, almost exclusively because of injuries. At full strength, the Birdie likes their chances against the Talbots. But how close will they be to full strength? Hampton, 22-21

Knoch (7-2, 3-1) at Valley (2-7, 0-4): Playoff tuneup for the Knights, who are locked in second place. Knoch, 40-10

Burrell (4-5, 3-3) at Apollo-Ridge (2-7, 1-5): Speaking of playoff tuneups, the Bucs could use one after a loss to Derry last week. Burrell, 27-13

Greensburg Central Catholic (6-3, 4-1) at Leechburg (6-3, 3-2): This has become a good rivalry. They’re playing for bragging rights and seeding concerns. Greensburg C.C., 34-27

Indiana (2-7) at Plum (3-6): Mustangs would love to head into the offseason on a two-game win streak. Plum, 34-28

Springdale (1-8, 0-5) at Riverview (4-5, 1-4): It hurts to be out of the playoffs, of course, but a .500 season would be something for the Raiders to be proud of. Riverview, 33-6

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