The Birdie living up to the hype while picking Westmoreland County games

Wednesday, August 23, 2023 | 6:43 PM

The Birdie

Last season: 107-29 (78.7%)

The highlight of the Birdie’s summer came a couple of weeks ago when he high-fived Kenny Pickett as the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback ran onto the practice field at Saint Vincent.

(Security pulled Pickett’s mesh jersey out of the Birdie’s claw. It was worth making a scene over, he told authorities.)

“The golden boy, the chosen one, the franchise,” Birdie said. “All nicknames they’ve attached to me over the years. Now the key is to live up to the hype. I’ve done it, now it’s your turn, Kenny.”

A new WPIAL season begins Friday, and Westmoreland County’s prep football professor has been hard at work analyzing film.

“I watched ‘Remember The Titans’ and ‘Any Given Sunday’ 10 times each,” he said. “If those don’t get you fired up, nothing will. As the kiddies in their Crocs and pajama pants say, ‘Let’s goooo!’ ”

As far as county talent goes, the Birdie thinks it is “Belle Vernon and everyone else.”

“The Leopards look good and smell good,” he said. “They must be wearing some of Quinton Martin’s cologne. Ahem, I am still waiting for mine to come in the mail, Q. I bet James Franklin got some.”

The Birdie heard the gold-colored turf at “The Beach” is nearing its replacement date, and there are rumors they might go back to green.

“Nooo!” Birdie shouted from his desk as his paper football simultaneously sailed wide left. “You close the beach, you’re no better than the mayor of Amity Island. Duh nuh, duh nuh, duh nuh … . The Leps are as good as gold.”

He paused to squish a Spotted Lanternfly with his left Chuck Taylor.

“Hope the little buggers don’t eat Field Turf,” Birdie said.

Teams that have aroused the Birdie’s curiosity include Latrobe and Southmoreland.

Latrobe has an edge to it this year, kind of like me when the news editors tell the sports dudes there is free pizza on Election Night,” Birdie said. “Get out of my way.

“And Southmoreland, well, prepare to see some highlights. Russ Grimm is going to enjoy watching his Scotties. Give him the best parking spot you have.

“I hear fans will be coming clear from Connellsville to see the Scotties play.”

Enough chatter from the bird cage. Bring on the predictions.

Greensburg Salem at Hempfield: New coaches, new staffs, new systems. While neither team is going to scare up many wins, Hempfield has more depth and size in its opener.

Hempfield, 23-13

Derry at Latrobe: Take last year’s script and bottle it, Latrobe. Run it hard, run it fast, and make Derry one-dimensional. Only do it with many more weapons.

Latrobe, 35-7

Mt. Pleasant at Greensburg C.C.: Depth and brute strength will outshine speed here as Mt. Pleasant muscles past the Centurions.

Mt. Pleasant, 34-24

Canon-McMillan at Penn-Trafford: Penn-Trafford is known for its hulking linemen. The big boys will go to work in the opener.

Penn-Trafford, 21-14

Thomas Jefferson at Franklin Regional: A playoff-like feel in Week Zero? Could be. Look for Thomas Jefferson to outlast the Panthers, who also could make some noise this season.

Thomas Jefferson, 17-10

Jeannette at Burrell: A summer dust-up will have these two fired up. The more mature team will win. Play nice, gentlemen, your town is watching.

Burrell, 33-25

McGuffey at Southmoreland: The host Scotties will get off to a fast start, as long as penalties are minimized and the defense makes some stops.

Southmoreland, 36-26

Norwin at Upper St. Clair: Depth will be an issue for Norwin. It usually is not for USC.

Upper St. Clair, 31-13

South Allegheny at Yough: This won’t be the prettiest opener on the schedule, but someone has to win.

South Allegheny, 18-8

Ligonier Valley at Springdale: This is far from the same team Ligonier Valley rolled out last year. But the Rams seem to find a way.

Ligonier Valley, 19-6

Washington at Monessen: Look for some big plays on both sides in a wild opening-night shootout.

Monessen, 42-38

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