‘Tis the season for playoff football in the A-K Valley and the Birdie is psyched

Thursday, October 29, 2020 | 2:29 PM

Last week: 10-2 (83%)

Overall record: 59-11 (84%)

The Birdie entered the weekly Zoom call on Monday with his best Ric Flair impersonation.


See, the first week of playoff time is like Christmas morning for the Birdie. He even wore his Santa suit for the meeting.

“I’m gonna deliver things I like to call W’s this week,” the Birdie said. “I deliver the best, to the best, and at this point in the season, I’m sure teams will take whatever they can get in order to ensure victory.”

After the pairings meeting on Saturday night — “Wait, did you see Donny in that suit?” the Birdie asked. “The Rebel Yell was pulling out all the stops.” — the Birdie started making his weekly calls to see if he’d be allowed to attend that week’s games.

Some teams aren’t too happy with the mess the Birdie makes in the press box. Normally, chip crumbs are left in his wake, water bottles are left half empty and one athletic director even found a half-eaten candy bar stuffed underneath the desk he was sitting at.

“I don’t know what that guy was talking about. I’ve been framed,” the Birdie claimed.

There’s plenty of good matchups around the WPIAL this Friday, too, with just four A-K Valley teams making the cut to the playoffs.

“Teams aren’t going to get any easy matchups at this point of the season,” the Birdie said. “No matter where I end up, I know I’ll be getting a good one. I just know I don’t want to cover a game that takes up two whole days. I’m not a fan of those.”

Most games won’t extend two days, but there will be some physical games Friday.

Freeport vs. Elizabeth Forward is going to be an old-fashioned, line-up-and-go-at-each-other type of game. The Warriors have allowed only 8.8 points per game, and the Yellowjackets aren’t scared of anyone, especially after having North Catholic against the ropes.

“It’s going to be a fun one,” the Birdie said. “Everyone knows Freeport wants another shot at North Catholic, but they have to get through the Warriors first.”

After the WPIAL switched the sections so teams are closer together, the days of long road trips were gone, and teams were thankful. Those are back for the playoffs, and Washington has a 66-mile drive to Apollo-Ridge.

“I wouldn’t want to be Washington making that trip to Owens Field,” the Birdie said. “Ehh, I guess the Prexies could get a nice nap in.”

McKeesport is heading to Plum after beating Thomas Jefferson on Friday, and the Tigers are red hot. But the Mustangs haven’t lost this season, and they are in the kitchen cooking up something of their own.

“Mustangs are about to get tested, but I bet that coaching staff has something spicy ready for the Tigers,” the Birdie said as he thought about what it could be. “I wonder if they’ll share any of their secrets with me. Mrs. Birdie always needs some good recipes to add to her cookbook.”

With that being said, the Birdie made his first-round picks.

No. 6 McKeesport (6-1) at No. 3 Plum (7-0): The Tigers are red hot after taking down then-No. 1 Thomas Jefferson on Friday, but the Mustangs are just as hot with their first undefeated season since 1977. Plum could take this one in a high-scoring battle. Plum, 35-28

No. 6 Freeport (3-2) at No. 3 Elizabeth Forward (6-0): The Yellowjackets have played well, but can they put together a clean enough game to take down the undefeated Warriors, who are loaded with talent? Despite a close game against North Catholic, Freeport has met its match, but it will be close. Elizabeth Forward, 28-14

No. 5 Washington (5-2) at No. 4 Apollo-Ridge (5-0): The Vikings might have played two fewer games, but they are ready to go, and they’ll take this one in a close battle. Apollo-Ridge, 21-14

No. 7 Springdale (5-2) at No. 2 Rochester (6-1): The Dynamos have tested themselves against the best all season long. They have another tough test Friday when they take on the Rams. If the Dynamos can stop Denny Robinson and the Rochester run game, they’ll come out on top. Springdale, 35-28

Ringgold (1-6) at Burrell (2-5): After playing Central Valley last week, the Bucs proved they are ready to play anyone. They’ll come out with a victory this time around in a nonplayoff game being staged at Valley while construction continues at Bucs Stadium. Burrell, 28-14

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