The Birdie’s Westmoreland County picks stand the test of time

Wednesday, September 6, 2023 | 6:35 PM

Last week: 7-4 (63.6%)

Season: 14-8 (63.6%)

When the Birdie heard Hempfield Township was going to fill a time capsule and open it 50 years from now, he began gathering items to donate.

“Maybe they should bury your picks in there,” a part-timer shouts across the newsroom. “You know what it’s like to dig out of hole.”

The Birdie scoffs but recovers like a soldier at attention.

The old-timer, who had back-to-back 7-4 weeks to open the season, loves nostalgia.

“I am always willing to donate my used items to a treasure trove,” Birdie said. “Because I am a big part of Hempfield history.

“While I won’t be quite as old as Hempfield (300) when they dig up the capsule in 2073, my legend will already have been cemented for decades. I used to be HS Picks. Then, I morphed into the Birdie. You know me, you love me, you can’t get enough of me.”

Items the football fowl is gathering for the capsule, not completely confined to Hempfield, include:

• His “Football Picks for Dummies” book.

• A game ball from Hempfield’s fifth win last season. “Oh, what could’ve been” he said.

• One of his game-used No. 2 pencils with a partially chewed eraser.

• An autographed Terrelle Pryor jersey. “Signed by me,” Birdie said.

• A clipping from his column that included a perfect score prediction for the 2021 PIAA 5A championship (17-14).

• A slice of “The Beach” turf. “I still don’t know why they don’t call the student section The Sand Box.”

• A gum wrapper that flew in the air when James Franklin landed his helicopter at Belle Vernon. “Bazooka Joe,” he said, blowing a bubble.

• A scale he took from Penn-Trafford. “They’ll find another one to weigh those linemen.”

• One empty banana split dish he brought home from Latrobe. “Extra nuts.”

“That oughta do it,” Birdie said. “If I think of more, I will let you know. Now let’s get digging … on Week 2.”

Latrobe (1-1) at Hempfield (1-1): What people don’t realize about Latrobe is that the Wildcats are much improved throwing the football. The run is their bread and butter, but the offense can go deep. Latrobe, 28-22

Norwin (0-2) at Fox Chapel (0-2): Norwin has shown improvements on both sides of the ball and it will pay off with a road win. The Foxes can’t apply much pressure. Norwin, 21-14

Connellsville (2-0) at Franklin Regional (1-1): Franklin Regional is trying to avoid close games like last year. So much for that plan this week. Franklin Regional, 28-26

Penn-Trafford (0-2) at Woodland Hills (1-1): The Birdie isn’t yet sold on Penn-Trafford’s offense. The Warriors have only managed seven points in two games. This offense needs time to blend and mature. Woodland Hills, 20-7

Mt. Pleasant (1-1) at McGuffey (1-1): The linemen from Mt. Pleasant will get off the ball early and drive the Highlanders backwards. Mt. Pleasant, 26-19

McKeesport (2-0) at Belle Vernon (1-0): Belle Vernon is on a mission but can’t overlook an opponent like McKeesport, which loves to play physical. The Leopards will have to earn some tough yards — and they will. Belle Vernon, 27-13

Ligonier Valley (1-1) at Greensburg Salem (0-2): Each week, one game stumps the bird with the word. While he thinks Greensburg Salem could stand its ground at Offutt, he doesn’t think the defense can slow down the run. Ligonier Valley, 19-13

Yough (0-2) at Charleroi (0-1): Yough brings back a more experienced team and can win if it avoids self-inflicted mistakes. Yough, 13-10

Derry (1-1) at Southmoreland (2-0): Programs heading in different directions allow the Birdie to make less stressful picks. Derry had its fun last week. Southmoreland, 48-14

Jefferson-Morgan (1-1) at Jeannette (1-1): No overtime this year, but Jeannette’s defense will have to make some late stops to preserve a win in another tight finish. Jeannette, 31-28

Greensburg Central Catholic (1-1) at West Greene (2-0): A long bus ride to West Greene will seem even longer coming home for the Centurions, who won’t be able to stop the Pioneers’ running game. West Greene, 27-13

Frazier (0-2) at Monessen (0-2): Will Monessen will finally roll out the big-play offense the Birdie promised in the preseason? Monessen, 22-12

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