Time flies and so does The Birdie as he makes his A-K Valley playoff picks

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Wednesday, November 1, 2023 | 5:52 PM


Last week: 7-2 (77.8%)

Season: 82-28 (74.5%)

With the WPIAL playoffs about to begin, it’s easy to feel like the high school football season has flown by.

The seniors on the rosters of teams through the A-K Valley surely feel that way.

But if you think about it, a lot has happened since teams gathered for heat acclimation week.

“Yeah, remember what we thought about the Steelers offense in August?” The Birdie sneered. “Somewhere between the ’84 Dolphins and ’01 Rams. Ah, the good old days.”

“And remember the great Spotted Laternfly Invasion of 2023,” The Birdie reminisced. “Don’t see many of those buggers around these days.”

Then the Birdie pulled out a crumpled up computer printout of a story that appeared on TribLive.com in July and read it aloud:

“Sure, Taylor Swift drew 140,000-plus devoted fans to the North Shore last month, but how many members of the Steel Curtain could she name? Yeah. None. She’s a stinking Eagles fan. And not the Don Henley/Glenn Frey kind of Eagles.”

“She dropped those Birds like a bad habit,” the Birdie chuckled.

As six A-K Valley teams look to extend their seasons just a little longer, The Birdie made his playoff predictions for this week.

Southmoreland (6-4) at Deer Lakes (7-3): The best testament to the strides the Lancers have made in recent seasons is that their participation in the playoffs is no longer a surprising headline. They belong here. I know these teams aren’t exactly the same as they were in Week 4, but the Deer Lakes defense really did a number on Southmoreland that day. The Scotties scored on their first drive and then didn’t see the end zone again the rest of the night. The Lancers defense will stand tall again. Deer Lakes, 20-13

Highlands (6-4) at Central Valley (7-3): Making the playoffs, with the injuries they were dealt, is a significant feather in the cap of the Golden Rams. They’re playing their best football at the right time as well, having beaten Armstrong and Hampton the last two weeks. But Central Valley has been tested in the fires of the Parkway Conference and has a running game that will prove just too tough to stop. Central Valley, 34-21

Kiski Area (5-5) at Thomas Jefferson (8-2): The Birdie remembers seeing Carson Heinle slinging left-handed lasers all over the field at a 7-on-7 in July and thinking this Kiski Area offense is going to be a handful. It didn’t all come together immediately, but the Cavaliers fulfilled their potential with three clutch wins to end the regular season. Problem is, TJ is TJ. Thomas Jefferson, 27-13.

South Park (6-4) at Knoch (8-2): The Knights’ turnaround is one of the best stories in the WPIAL this season, going from 1-9 to 8-2, a whisker away from a conference title. They’ve got an offense that can beat opponents in all kinds of ways. This South Park matchup is a tough one to call, though. They have one common opponent: East Allegheny. South Park won in Week Zero, and Knoch lost in overtime in Week 8. South Park, 21-20

Burrell (4-6) at Mohawk (8-2): Credit is due to the Bucs as well. After losing their first two games, they put a foot down and won four of five, including a big win over Serra Catholic. This will be a classic ground vs. air matchup as Mohawk has one of the top passing combinations in the league with QB Jay Wrona and WR Bobby Fadden. Mohawk, 34-20

Leechburg (6-4) vs. Bishop Canevin (8-1): The days when Leechburg lugged around the WPIAL’s longest playoff drought seem like a distant memory now. The Blue Devils were picked to make the playoffs this season and they did, even with Braylan Lovelace gone to Pitt. It’s a credit to the program. Bishop Canevin, with a roster loaded with Division I talent, is a different animal, though. Bishop Canevin, 40-14

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