The Birdie stays grounded, like Burrell, as he makes his Week 6 picks in A-K Valley football

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Wednesday, October 5, 2022 | 7:19 PM


Last week: 12-0

Season: 61-8 (88.4%)

The Birdie has taken notice of the outstanding year the Burrell Bucs are having: a 5-1 record with a great shot at making the WPIAL playoffs.

Here’s why he thinks that’s such great news: It shines a light on the fact that there are many ways to skin a cat on Friday nights.

(Cats are The Birdie’s mortal enemy, but he’s speaking metaphorically here.)

Coach Shawn Liotta looked at his roster this season and decided his team would be better off running the ball maniacally and playing stout defense than trying to stuff a round peg into a square hole and employing the pass-heavy approach preferred by many these days.

And now, the Bucs have as many wins as they do completed passes.

Think of all the benefits of Burrell’s approach.

• Say the other team has a WPIAL sprint medalist at one corner and an all-section middle hitter from the volleyball team at the other. No problem for the Bucs. Let’s see how well those guys tackle.

• Say it’s a rainy or snowy night. They won’t be asking an inexperienced quarterback to throw a slippy ball. (Are you surprised The Birdie uses the word “slippy” in everyday conversation?)

• Say your center is having a bad day. In the spread, you could spend half the game chasing bad snaps around the backfield like Rocky chasing chickens.

• Ever watch a mediocre spread team try to kill clock with a lead in the fourth quarter? It’s like watching The Birdie try to do college algebra.

The Birdie realizes there aren’t many teams that will emulate Burrell’s approach. The passing game is the present and the future, and he isn’t going to stand on his porch and yell at kids for playing in his yard.

But there is one lesson that everyone can take from this year’s Bucs, and it’s a lesson Mike Tomlin has expressed with a very quotable phrase: If you have red paint, you paint the barn red.

And you should listen to The Birdie. He went undefeated last week.

Now, on to his Week 6 picks.

East Allegheny (5-1) at Freeport (5-1): One big question in this de facto conference championship game: Can the Yellowjackets offense keep up? East Allegheny, 35-28

Deer Lakes (3-3) at Valley (1-5): The Lancers can win games multiple ways. Two weeks ago, 9-0. Last week, 37-36. Deer Lakes, 21-19

Highlands (6-0) at Woodland Hills (3-3): The Wolverines are dangerous, but the Golden Rams are riding high. Highlands, 27-12

Imani Christian (2-4) at Apollo-Ridge (3-3): Vikings need to avoid giving up the big play. Apollo-Ridge 28-12

Kiski Area (0-6) at Mars (4-2): Fightin’ Planets can’t be happy with the beating they took last week. Mars, 40-20

Leechburg (4-2) at Jeannette (2-4): Jayhawks have made vast improvements this season but not this vast. Leechburg, 42-14

Ligonier Valley (4-2) at Burrell (5-1): Rams like to run the ball, too. This game could be over in a hour and a half. Burrell, 21-20

Penn Hills (3-3) at Fox Chapel (0-6): Penn Hills is slumping, but they’re still capable of big plays on offense. Penn Hills, 34-19

Shady Side Academy (1-4) at Knoch (0-6): The Bulldogs can play some defense. Shady Side Academy, 13-6

South Fayette (3-3) at Plum (3-3): Looks like the Lions got on track last week. South Fayette, 27-24

Springdale (0-6) at Clairton (2-4): A 2-4 Clairton team is still a Clairton team. Clairton, 30-6

Summit Academy (1-5) at Riverview (2-4): The Raiders come out fired up for their annual home night game. Riverview, 34-6

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