The Birdie offers bracket adjustment suggestions and his Westmoreland playoff predictions
By: The Birdie
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 | 5:27 PM
If the Birdie decides to use his ghost writer to pen a book, the title might be, “Birds' Seeds: The story of how the WPIAL playoffs should really work.”
“I'm doing research for it, now,” Birdie said, peeling open a Twinkie, biting to the cream and chugging some Mello Yello straight from a 2-liter bottle. “These playoffs are like our tax system: brackets need adjusted. I'm no politician, but my vote is for changing the playoff system. Less teams, better football.”
While he thinks the WPIAL was fair to his beloved Westmoreland teams, Mr. Birdie agrees with a few media colleagues: It's time to make the WPIAL playoffs great again.
Of course, less teams is not the answer in Class 3A, where good teams continue to get bumped aside come playoff time. Class 2A and A are saturated, he said, and the WPIAL needs to act on the eve of another realignment cycle.
“Last year, it was Beaver,” Birdie said. “No. 1 in the state at one time, but out because of one loss? Pfft.
“This year, Shady Side Academy (6-3) and Central Valley (6-4) were left out in the cold. But you look at 2A and 1A, and, like, 150 bad teams got in. Monessen made it at 3-7. Yikes. Participation trophies are a poor substitute for winning records.”
The Birdie's solution is to add teams in 3A and take some away in 2A and A.
“There are three conferences in each class,” Birdie said. “So make it like basketball: Top 12 make it, and four teams get byes. Here's a free week to get healthy. This cuts out the teams that have no business playing football in November and gives those bubble teams in 3A a way in.”
Back to the present, there are still playoff games to be settled this year. After a perfect 7-0 week, here is Birdman's take on Round 2:
Penn-Trafford (10-1) vs. Upper St. Clair (8-3)
The Birdie thinks Penn-Trafford has what it takes to reach the finals at Heinz Field for the second time in three years. After a challenging tune-up against Fox Chapel, the Warriors are tested and a win away from the Mustard Bowl.
Belle Vernon (10-0) vs. Thomas Jefferson (9-1)
Rematches are what the WPIAL playoffs are all about, and the Birdie thinks Thomas Jefferson will exact its revenge on the Leopards, who leave the beach for a colder destination.
Thomas Jefferson, 20-18
Jeannette (10-1) vs. Rochester (8-2)
The Birdie thinks Jeannette is destined to meet Clairton again, unless the Jayhawks decide to skip out early. Birdie picked a Jeannette shutout last week, but Rochester will score — and won't go quietly.
Ligonier Valley (11-0) vs. Cambria Heights (8-3)
Ligonier Valley will be tested by a sound defensive team, but the Rams will turn to their arsenal of playmakers to take down the Highlanders.
Ligonier Valley, 33-20