Westmoreland County Week 1 matchups have Birdie grinning from ear to ear

Thursday, September 10, 2020 | 12:01 AM

The Birdie went to the dentist earlier this week for his six-month checkup, and, aside from getting his gums poked and prodded, accidentally swallowing some fluoride treatment and pocketing a free toothbrush, he received a boost of confidence.

“The nice dental assistant noticed I still have my wisdom choppers. See,” Birdie said, pulling down his mask and opening wide. “She said most my age have had them removed. I could tell she abruptly noticed she was dealing with a special kind of patient here.”

She said, “You must be pretty smart to still have those wisdom teeth. What do you do for a living?”

The Birdie, who has a face only a mother could love but an endearing smile, took full advantage of the moment.

“Well, young lady,” he said, grabbing the assistant’s arm to hold back the suction straw so he could speak. “I predict high school football games, and do so quite well if I do say so myself. A new season starts Friday, and while I am getting up there in age — a little long in the tooth, tee hee — my wisdom always shines through.

“I’d be glad to sign your scrubs on my way out. I bet I can guess your alma mater.”

The assistant paused and grinned before resuming her scraping and cleaning. (Don’t tell the Birdie she rolled her eyes behind her safety goggles).

When his cleaning was finished, the Birdie rose from the chair, put his mask back on and whispered, “Still got it,” as he fist-bumped the air. He strutted past a few people in the waiting room and offered a wink as he left the appointment.

Week 1 finally is here, and the Birdie is, well, chomping at the bit, to see local teams take the field.

Here’s what he has to say about opening night.

Clairton at Jeannette

Jeannette has not had a ton of success against Clairton at McKee Stadium, and the trend will continue as the top-rated Bears control the line of scrimmage. Clairton, 27-20

Hempfield at Norwin

New quarterbacks will take over for both programs, but Hempfield has the more experienced skill players. Hempfield, 23-13

Franklin Regional at Gateway

Gateway showed its speed and athleticism in its scrimmage. Franklin Regional won’t be able to catch up. Gateway, 31-10

Latrobe at Penn-Trafford

Penn-Trafford has fielded some athletic teams, but this one has talent all over the field. Latrobe won’t be able to match plays with the Warriors in the opener. Penn-Trafford, 34-7

Belle Vernon at McKeesport

Look for big plays early before McKeesport settles in and wears down the Leopards up front. McKeesport, 28-26

Plum at Greensburg Salem

The Golden Lions have been longing for their 700th win, and a hyped opener will go their way — barely. Greensburg Salem, 16-14

North Catholic at Derry

With a revved-up rushing attack, Derry will eke out an upset at home under its new coach. Derry, 14-13

South Allegheny at Mt. Pleasant

With a lot of new faces, Mt. Pleasant will need some time to find on-field chemistry. South Allegheny will take advantage on the road. South Allegheny, 22-15

South Park at Southmoreland

South Park is used to playing against heavyweights in the Tri-County West. It will show it is battle-tested in the opener against the Scotties. South Park, 28-21

Ligonier Valley at Apollo-Ridge

A District 6 powerhouse, Ligonier Valley spoiled its fans over the years with talented teams. But one of its thinner teams will take the field in its long-awaited WPIAL debut, and Apollo-Ridge won’t roll over for the newcomers. Apollo-Ridge, 27-17

Greensburg C.C. at Leechburg

Some believe Greensburg Central Catholic is a sleeper team in Class A. But it barely beat Leechburg last year 42-41, so the Blue Devils can’t be taken lightly. Greensburg CC, 26-13

Avella at Monessen

Change has swept over the Monessen program, and the upsurge will be felt in the form of a season-opening win. Monessen, 26-6

Chartiers-Houston at Yough

Yough will take command early against a very inexperienced opponent and roll in the opener on Cougar Mountain. Yough, 28-8

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