The Birdie isn’t goofing around anymore as he makes his Week 1 A-K Valley picks

Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | 7:09 PM

Last week: 8-3 (72.7%)

Astute readers will recall that The Birdie spent much of his preseason column squawking about how Riverview was his favorite football team in the A-K Valley.

Those readers also will note that Birdie made that proclamation largely because he’s a goof. He just wanted to make jokes about getting cookies and pastries and such from Oakmont Bakery when he covered Raiders games.

But now, after Riverview’s impressive Week Zero win over Beth-Center, he’s not joking around anymore.

“You know how you get a feeling about a team sometimes?” Birdie said. “Like with Leechburg a couple of years ago? That’s the vibe these Raiders give off.

“They went on the road to Beth-Center, and it was ground-and-pound city. Threw two passes all night. Landon Johnson for 259 and two. Carlo Buzzato for 125 and two more. The wing-T was humming, and The Birdie knows a thing or two about wings.”

Here’s where a prudent prognosticator would caution that it’s not smart to make too much of early results.

Yeah, not The Birdie.

“Flew down The Rivers and plunked my paycheck on the Steelers over 8.5 wins. Did you see the Pickett-preseason-palooza? It’s money in the bank,” he crowed. “And Riverview, yeah, this is a seven-win team, at least. You can take that to the bank, too.”

With that, The Birdie scurried off to make his Week 1 picks:

Burrell (0-1) at Deer Lakes (0-1): Two teams coming off heartbreakers in Week Zero. The Lancers scored higher on the moral victory scale, losing by a point to Class 2A contender Keystone Oaks. Deer Lakes, 20-13

Apollo-Ridge (1-0) at Valley (0-1): Valley showed some signs it might have some playmakers this season in a loss to Armstrong. Meanwhile, Apollo-Ridge quarterback Karter Shrock looks like he’s back and better than ever. Apollo-Ridge, 27-14

South Allegheny (1-0) at Freeport (0-1): The Yellowjackets are rebuilding after graduation losses, and they’re hoping a gritty defense can help them along. That’ll work some weeks, but it’s a tall task with South Allegheny’s Cameron Epps coming to town. South Allegheny, 28-14

Highlands (1-0) at Blackhawk (0-1): The Golden Rams have a nice schedule for ramping up to conference play. Started with Ambridge, now they take a step up to Blackhawk. They had a bit of a slow start against the Bridgers but shook it off quick. Highlands, 20-15

Fox Chapel (0-1) at Plum (1-0): Mustangs look like they have a nice balanced offense with Nicholas Odom carrying the ball and Sean Franzi flinging it. Plum, 35-13

Indiana (1-0) at Knoch (1-0): Did anyone in the entire WPIAL have a more eye-opening opener than the Knights? Codi Mullen threw all over a good Hampton team. No reason to think he won’t do the same to Indiana. Knoch, 36-18

Kiski Area (0-1) at Pine-Richland (0-1): This is a Cavaliers team with potential, but, man, this is a brutal piece of schedule. The defending state champs are coming off a lopsided loss in Ohio. They’re not going to be happy. Pine-Richland, 35-13

Northgate (0-1) at Springdale (0-1): An exciting opportunity at home for the rebuilding Dynamos to snap a 12-game losing streak. Springdale, 21-20

Summit Academy (0-1) vs. Leechburg (0-1): Last year, the Blue Devils took out their frustrations from a close opening loss to Apollo-Ridge on Summit Academy. Expect the same this year. Leechburg, 42-6

Carlynton (1-0) at Riverview (1-0): The Cougars opened with a decisive win over Carrick under a new coach. They are not to be overlooked. But if the Raiders are the breakout team The Birdie thinks they are, this is a time to shine. Riverview, 30-10

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