The Birdie misses his trips to Green Tree, hopes to hit on Westmoreland County playoff picks

Wednesday, November 1, 2023 | 5:43 PM

Last week: 9-2 (81.8%)

Season: 95-27 (77.8%)

For decades, as readers know, when the WPIAL football playoff pairings meeting was an in-person event, the Birdie would get excited for his yearly excursion to a packed hotel ballroom in Green Tree.

It was like his school picnic day.

He would slick back his hair with gel and slap on some aftershave balm. He would put on his best business casual attire — often a sweater vest — throw on his church shoes and he’d skip out the door.

But times have changed.

The pairings meeting no longer exists in its original form, and the WPIAL moved its offices to Scott Township.

The process is all online now.

“Change never sat well with me,” Birdie said. “I’m all about same job, same wife, same house, same blue jeans. Traditions mean something.

“I even use the same tape recorder and typewriter I used decades ago. Only thing I change is the batteries and ink ribbon. I’m missing a K on my eyboard.”

The Birdie couldn’t break tradition and couldn’t resist, so he went to the new WPIAL headquarters with a stringer friend and tailgated last Saturday afternoon before the big playoff reveal.

He dressed up like usual, ordered pizza and sat on the bumper of his Chevette.

The air thick with Old Spice, he sketched his brackets on his pizza box.

A WPIAL official came out to the parking lot, and the Birdie said to him, “Hey, I bet the bus driver needs a ticket, huh?”

The WPIAL worker didn’t get it.

“I offered him a slice of double-cheese and anchovies and tried again,” Birdie said. “Is this where the coaches meet to exchange VHS tapes?”

Again, crickets.

“I miss the good ole days,” Birdie said. “Let’s kick off the playoffs!”

Now for the nostalgic nester’s take on the first round.

Franklin Regional (6-4) at Peters Township (10-0): Franklin Regional hasn’t seen a dynamic offense like this all season. The Indians will test the secondary early. Peters Township, 35-13

Penn-Trafford (5-5) at Penn Hills (8-2): Ball control gives Penn-Trafford the best chance to stay with the Indians, who can hit big plays in a hurry. Penn Hills, 28-16

Latrobe (7-3) at West Allegheny (6-4): The Birdie thinks the Parkway Conference will have the Indians ready to take on Latrobe. A sound run defense will make plays and take advantage of miscues. West Allegheny, 23-14

Southmoreland (6-4) at Deer Lakes (7-3): A rematch from the regular season will be closer but have the same winner. Deer Lakes, 28-20

Mt. Pleasant (6-4) at West Mifflin (6-4): The Vikings’ run defense will get another big test. Catch them if you can. West Mifflin, 21-10

Derry (5-5) at McGuffey (7-3): If Derry can’t finish drives, it could be a long night against a good defense. McGuffey, 30-7

Jeannette (7-3) at California (9-1): The Birdie thinks the Eastern Conference is better overall than the Tri-County South, but high-scoring California could win in either with its brand of football. California, 39-14

West Greene (8-2) vs. Greensburg Central Catholic (7-3) at Plum: A road home game for GCC is odd, but the Centurions have familiarity with the Pioneers and that would come in handy at any field. GCC, 38-31

Monessen (4-6) at South Side Beaver (10-0): Monessen has a long bus ride. South Side will make some short trips to the end zone. South Side, 34-8

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