There’s no disguising Birdie’s ability to pick Westmoreland County winners

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021 | 5:03 PM


Last week: 8-4 (66.7%)

Season: 79-31 (71.8%)

With a fingernail flick, a piece of candy corn soars across the office and hits a copy editor on the back of the head.

“It’s good!” the Birdie shouts, raising his fists into the air and disturbing a lifestyles writer and a news editor.

You’ll have to excuse the Birdie, who is hopped up on sugar and treats.

“Halloween is my favorite time of the year,” Birdie said, tossing another handful of candy corn down his gullet. “It’s a win-win. I get candy, and the playoffs are just around the corner.”

The Birdie has been working long hours lately, and the sweets help him cope.

“I get more overtime than Penn State and Illinois,” he said.

Traditionally, the Birdie’s column on the next-to-last week of October is about his Halloween-costume ideas.

“I’m all about tradition, I’m out of original ideas, and I have a tee time, so let’s do this,” he said. “Alexa, play Halloween theme song.”

His options vary from the exotic to the obvious.

“I might go trick-or-treating as a referee,” he said. “Only problem is, the WPIAL might try to hire me on sight.

“Someone once told me I’d make a nice penalty flag. I challenged that call.”

Birdie asked a co-worker to stand on his shoulders so he could dress up like a Penn-Trafford lineman.

“I need to gain some weight, too,” Birdie said. “Let me touch up these Reese’s cups first.”

More ideas include:

• A cross country runner — “I’d have to drop a few pounds first. Corporate told me to sign up for a 401K. I said, I can’t run that far.”

• The little gold golfer on the WPIAL trophy — “The GCC girls might kidnap me.”

• Don Rebel — “I need an abacus and a ‘Quiet Storm’ voice, neither of which I own.”

• Mike Tomlin in a USC varsity jacket — “Shhh, don’t tell him.”

• Ted Lasso — “I could cater to the soccer crowd, maybe get their vote, with futbol playoff time here.”

• Russ Grimm — “Just one bad dude. And man, that stache.”

• Kenny Pickett — “I knock. They answer. ‘Do I know you?’ they ask. I just strike a Heisman pose, take my Skittles and walk away.

With expenses tighter than usual, the Birdie might go poor man’s process.

“Maybe I’ll save my money and just wear my covid mask,” he said. “If I put two of three of them over my face I could pass for a mummy or a ninja.”

Now let’s see what he has to offer for Week 9.

“Pick or treat.”

Norwin (3-6, 1-5) at Hempfield (2-7, 0-6): It’s a winnable finale for both. Might be the closest game in 6A Friday. Hempfield, 30-28

Gateway (6-3, 3-1) at Franklin Regional (3-6, 2-2): While trick plays work once in a while, Frankin Regional will need more than those to get around the Gators. Gateway, 35-14

Penn-Trafford (7-2, 4-0) at Latrobe (3-6, 1-3): Look for that Warriors passing game to continue to pick up steam as the playoffs get closer. Penn-Trafford, 28-13

McKeesport (8-1, 5-0) at Belle Vernon (7-0, 5-0): This one will be close early before Belle Vernon turns on the jets like it just heard the last school bell of the day. Belle Vernon, 27-20

Greensburg Salem (5-4, 3-3) at Plum (3-6, 3-3): Greensburg Salem has a tendency to start slow, but the Golden Lions will get their offense going early then hold on against the Mustangs. Greensburg Salem, 14-12

Derry (0-8, 0-4) at North Catholic (9-0, 5-0): It’s been a long year at Derry. Nobody seems to know who’s in charge. It’s been another good year at North Catholic. North Catholic, 42-0

Mt. Pleasant (5-3, 3-1) at South Allegheny (3-6, 3-2): Mt. Pleasant, which has to take care of the football and force three-and-outs, can’t rest on its laurels after clinching last week. Mt. Pleasant, 21-13

Southmoreland (6-3, 3-2) at South Park (2-6, 2-3): Southmoreland appears headed back to the playoffs and the Eagles will be a nice tune-up. Southmoreland, 25-14

Yough (1-8, 1-4) at Elizabeth Forward (7-2, 5-0): The host Warriors will jump on the Cougars early. Elizabeth Forward, 44-6

Apollo-Ridge (2-6, 1-3) at Ligonier Valley (7-2, 2-2): A strong start built some equity for Ligonier Valley, which is beginning to come around again and can extend its season with a win. Ligonier Valley, 20-12

Jeannette (1-8, 1-5) at Clairton (6-2, 6-0): A Class A championship rematch that will leave much to be desired. Clairton, 56-6

Leechburg (7-2, 4-2) at Greensburg Central Catholic (6-3, 4-2): GCC has shown what it can do offensively, but the Centurions’ defense will be tested this week, especially its run defense. GCC, 28-22

Monessen (3-6, 2-4) at Avella (1-8, 1-5): Monessen wasn’t supposed to be hanging around the playoff chase, but the Greyhounds still have a shot. Monessen, 19-8

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