The Birdie picks his favorite Westmoreland County perches

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019 | 5:03 PM


Last week: 11-3 (78.6)

Season: 75-15 (83.3)

The Birdie makes his rounds each football season. He tries his best to be fair and attempts to see as many local teams as he can.

That means the area’s authority on all things high school football tries to visit each stadium in Westmoreland County.

“It’s my flex, as the kiddos say,” he quips.

He takes notes when he gets to games so he can rank the venues in one of his picks columns.

This is the week for such a novel concept.

“Some of you don’t even know I’m there,” Birdie said, pulling his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose ever so slightly. “I am like the old Phantom Diner. Now I’m showing my age.”

He put this list together late one night as he and a friend debated which team is going to have more shutouts, Jeannette football or Franklin Regional boys soccer. And, what constitutes roughing the passer.

They also watched some game film, and Snoop Dogg’s Kansas performance a few times.

Night greeted morning and he dozed off as the Star-Spangled Banner played on his buddy’s TV. Reminded him of college cramming.

The press box critic’s top five list of local stadiums for this year goes something like this:

(“Let me remind you I account for food, parking, work space, accommodations, food, bathroom, lighting, food and kick-out rate,” he said. “The last one is based on which janitors let me stay when the game ends.”)

5. Derry. The food selection is appealing, the company is always good, and the small-town atmosphere tops it all off.

4. Franklin Regional. Might be the most organized place Birdie visits. He always gets fed, has rosters and has a place to type.

3. Greensburg Salem. The Birdie always enjoys the snacks and banter — and the atmosphere — at Offutt Field. Wins are nice too.

2. Penn-Trafford. Not only does the football team put on a show, but so does the game crew. Great chow, welcoming people and a good time had by all.

1. Norwin. There is a reason the WPIAL chose Knights Stadium to host the Class 5A championship. Norwin checks every box. For this purpose, it is the “GOAT.”

Friday

Hempfield (2-5, 1-5) at North Allegheny (7-0, 6-0)

North Allegheny has a quick defense that will apply pressure and bottle up Hempfield’s running game. North Allegheny, 36-14

Norwin (2-5, 1-4) at Canon McMillan (1-6, 1-4)

The Birdie likes it when two passing teams get together and sling it around. Canon McMillan will hit on a few more go routes. Norwin, 27-21

Franklin Regional (3-2, 2-1) at Connellsville (1-6, 1-4)

Franklin Regional doesn’t have a large schedule, with only eight games, but this is a winnable one — assuming the Panthers continue to get healthy. Franklin Regional, 26-13

Plum (3-4, 1-4) at Latrobe (2-5, 1-4)

The Birdie anticipates special teams plays and field position to make a big difference here — and extend someone’s season. Plum, 34-28

Greensburg Salem (3-4, 3-1) at Ringgold (1-6, 0-4)

With a sound rushing attack and the momentum from one of their biggest wins in a while, the Golden Lions will hit the road and bounce the Rams. Greensburg Salem, 35-7

West Mifflin (4-3, 3-1) at Belle Vernon (5-1, 4-1)

Look for West Mifflin to give the Leopards a tough time early with its defense. But BVA will control the second half. Belle Vernon, 31-20

Mt. Pleasant (3-4, 2-3) at Elizabeth Forward (4-2, 3-2)

This could be a wild one. Both teams can score in a hurry, but EF gets the nod playing in front of its home fans. Elizabeth Forward, 30-22

Yough (1-6, 1-4) at Derry (5-3, 4-1)

Derry will be able to run the ball effectively, and the Trojans’ defense will keep the Cougars quiet. Derry, 28-7

Jeannette (7-0, 3-0) at Greensburg C.C. (6-1, 4-1)

In the not-too-distant past, GCC was pretty strong against the Jayhawks. The Centurions will make the Jayhawks go a little deeper into the playbook to earn this victory. Jeannette, 28-14

Mapletown (1-6, 0-4) at Monessen (2-5, 2-3)

Monessen will hit some big plays early and keep scoring. Monessen, 49-8

Southmoreland (5-2) at Shenango (5-2)

While Shenango has been strong defensively, it has not seen a passing attack like the Scotties’. This one will be tight. Southmoreland, 21-19

Trinity (2-4) at Penn-Trafford (7-1)

The touchdown bell will sound quite a few times as the Warriors continue their playoff tuneup. Penn-Trafford, 40-12

Ligonier Valley (7-0, 7-0) at Northern Cambria (2-5, 2-5)

Northern Cambria has a sound running game but the Rams won’t give it much space in which to operate. Ligonier Valley, 51-6

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