The Birdie is running wild while making Week 4 Westmoreland County picks

Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | 6:30 PM

Last week: 9-5 (64.3 %)

Season: 32-16 (66.7%)

The Birdie visited his heart doctor the other day and had to go through a stress test.

A couple of hours later, he needed an ice bath and a massage.

“They had me running like Hempfield in the second half against Franklin Regional,” Birdie said. “I had that treadmill up to like a 2.0. I was really moving. They asked me to turn out the lights when I was done, like those cool custodians who let me stay late in the press box. Of course, most of them don’t do that much anymore, which is sad.”

Walking and running are not mutually exclusive for the Birdie, who does both at about the same speed (Bill Slowski once beat him in the 100-meter dash).

“Yeah, but now he does DoorDash and I’m a prep pigskin expert, so …” Birdie said.

Anyway, the Birdie does appreciate a good running team.

“All of this no-huddle, run-pass option stuff is fun to watch, but y’all know I am old school,” Birdie said. “Run the ball. It works. And, it makes the games go faster for my deadline.”

While his original idea for this week’s column was about bringing back the fullback, he decided to go ahead and address the larger picture.

“We do need more fullbacks again, yes,” he said. “But let’s establish the run, first.”

Hobbled by a sore ego following a 9-5 week — to Jeannette, Monessen, Seneca Valley, Peters Township and Fox Chapel, he says, “You’re welcome” — he is ready to game plan for a better week.

“I’ll admit, my Hempfield over Seneca Valley pick was an intercepted flea-flicker, returned for six,” he said. “Sometimes, you got to take a chance. I learned my lesson there. Hey, 6A football can really bring you back to reality.”

The Birdie has seen Penn-Trafford, Hempfield, Ligonier Valley, Norwin, Franklin Regional, Latrobe, Belle Vernon, Mt. Pleasant and Southmoreland play, and they all have something in common.

(He lines up in the I-formation because he loves the first-person point of view).

“Those teams have ground attacks,” Birdie said. “Sure, some can throw it around, too, but it’s that running game that sets up the pass. I love the run.

“I’m not completely archaic, though. Three yards and a cloud of dust doesn’t mean the same thing anymore because teams play on carpet now. It’s more like three yards and a cloud of rubber pellets. But the more the defense has to plan for the run, the more options you have as an offense.”

The gym class offensive coordinator also thinks teams running the ball would help with the referee shortage.

“Less pass interference calls to make,” he said.

While he’s disappointed two local games were canceled this week, the Birdie marches on — with caution.

Before his heart rate climbs again — he’s already chirping about having to cover Saturday games — here are his Week 4 pecks, err picks.


Hempfield (2-2, 0-1) at Mt. Lebanon (4-0, 1-0): Mt. Lebanon has been one of top defensive teams in the WPIAL. Hempfield can move the ball, but it will be a long night if they cannot. Mt. Lebanon, 42-7

Indiana (3-1, 1-0) at Greensburg Salem (3-1, 1-0): While Indiana has put up some points early on, the Little Indians have not faced anyone like Greensburg Salem. This is a sneaky good team. Greensburg Salem, 23-14

Thomas Jefferson (3-0, 1-0) at Belle Vernon (3-0, 1-0): The game everyone talks about seemingly every year. But it rarely outdoes the hype because Thomas Jefferson wins so often. The tide turns this year — at the Beach. Belle Vernon, 28-27

Southmoreland (3-1, 1-0) at Mt. Pleasant (2-2, 0-0): An underrated matchup between quiet rivals will come down to Southmoreland’s playmakers and the Vikings’ inability to stop them. Southmoreland, 32-20

Yough (0-4, 0-1) at South Allegheny (0-4, 0-1): Neither team has shown much pop offensively, and Yough’s defense has not been able to slow down anyone so far. South Allegheny, 21-7

Jeannette (1-3, 1-0) at Imani Christian (1-2, 0-1): A matchup whose combined number of players still won’t add up to a Class 3A roster, Jeannette gets the slightest of edges. Jeannette, 15-12

Jefferson-Morgan (1-3, 1-0) at Monessen (2-2, 1-0): Monessen was a long shot to win two games, but the Greyhounds are scrapping their way around the ball yard and having fun doing it. Monessen, 18-9

Bethel Park (1-3) at Franklin Regional (1-3): If Franklin Regional can get its quarterback situation figured out and take better care of the ball, the Panthers could be better. Franklin Regional, 26-16

Carrick (0-4) at Ligonier Valley (4-0): Weller Field has been kind to the Rams over the years, but the Rams won’t be kind to Carrick in this oddball matchup. Ligonier Valley, 42-6

Latrobe (2-2) at South Fayette (3-1): A tough road game for anybody, South Fayette isn’t as good as it has been, but the Lions still have offensive firepower. Latrobe still wants that signature win. South Fayette, 27-20


Penn-Trafford (2-2) at Shaler (2-2): The odd Saturday afternoon start will be different for the Warriors, but they should adjust quickly and take care of the Titans. Penn-Trafford, 30-14

Greensburg Central Catholic (3-1, 1-0) at Bishop Canevin (4-0, 1-0): While Bishop Canevin has emerged as a contender in the Class A Eastern Conference, so has GCC. GCC, 14-13

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