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The Birdie makes his way to Westmoreland County

| Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, 11:00 p.m.
(Left) Jeannette's Oakley Tyger runs drills with a teammate at McKee Stadium on August 9, 2017.
Kyle Hodges | For the Tribune-Review
(Left) Jeannette's Oakley Tyger runs drills with a teammate at McKee Stadium on August 9, 2017.

Roll the drums and sound the trumpets. There's a new sheriff in town.

Well, sheriff is a stretch.

“I just pick football games, but I'm the best in the business,” said the Birdie, the Tribune-Review's new high school football expert. “I am new to the area, but I know how important the Friday night lights are to Westmoreland County. I don't make campaign promises. I don't shake hands or kiss babies. I just tell it like it is. No fake news here. I will tell you who's going to win each week and why.”

The Birdie has been warming up to the county over the summer and touring the area. He attended the Westmoreland Fair, where he got chased by a rodeo bull and got sick after eating 12 funnel cakes.

“He almost got me,” Birdie said. “Hopefully, I don't get chased out of town by you fans. That can't possibly happen, right? That'd be like getting ejected from an all-star game.”

He also took in some area sites. He went to Steelers camp and Idlewild, played some golf (he was the only birdie on the scorecard), went to the drive-in with Mrs. Birdie, and bought some cool T-shirts at the mall.

He watched the eclipse from a water tower behind Jeannette's McKee Stadium.

“I even went to this axe-throwing place on Route 30,” he said. “Yikes. I'm staying clear of that joint if I lose games.”

Birdie thinks some area teams will have high-powered offenses that will pile up the points.

“Watch Penn-Trafford, Norwin, Hempfield and Jeannette; they're going to score a ton,” he said. “And Ligonier Valley still has playmakers. We're going to see some highlights.”

Now that he's introduced himself, it's time to go to work. The Birdie might lack a ride to the office but never lacks confidence.

“Here's the best part,” he said. “I'm 0-0. Like, all-time. I have never lost a game. And remember, when they say a little birdie told them ... yep, that's me.”

And now his regular-season predictions for area teams:

Belle Vernon

Seven starters return on offense but one of them isn't the quarterback. We'll see if someone can “do the job.”

Record: 5-4

Playoffs? Yes

Derry

After a magical run last season, the Trojans have one chore of an encore. Won't be easy.

Record: 4-6

Playoffs? No

Franklin Regional

Expect nothing less than the usual in Murrysville: tough kids and sound football.

Record: 6-3

Playoffs? Yes

Greensburg Central Catholic

A new regime will need some time to get their project off the ground.

Record: 1-9

Playoffs? No

Greensburg Salem

Too many question marks hanging with this team, and you can't have many uncertainties in their conference.

Record: 3-7

Playoffs? No

Hempfield

Look for the passing game to sling it around nicely — if that young line can come together quickly.

Record: 6-4

Playoffs? Yes

Jeannette

This could be the team that finally solves Clairton, and there will be big plays along the road to Week 9.

Record: 8-1

Playoffs? Yes

Latrobe

There will be improvements but the Wildcats won't completely turn a corner.

Record: 2-8

Playoffs? No

Ligonier Valley

After a thrilling playoff run — they still are cleaning up confetti — the Rams have the potential to stay in the fast lane.

Record: 8-2

Playoffs? Yes

Monessen

It's going to be an uphill battle for a new coach and his team to return to the WPIAL postseason.

Record: 2-8

Playoffs? No

Mt. Pleasant

A lot has changed for the Vikings, yet so much has stayed the same. Like the team staying competitive.

Record: 5-5

Playoffs? Yes

Norwin

With an athletic group and skill positions looking strong, the Knights can score. But how about that defense?

Record: 7-3

Playoffs? Yes

Penn-Trafford

Size, speed and experience all up the ante in Harrison City.

Record: 8-2

Playoffs? Yes

Southmoreland

Low numbers have been a problem for the Scotties, who need to find more ways to score this season.

Record: 1-8

Playoffs? No

Yough

With big-time size up front, the Cougars could sneak up on some teams, barring mistakes.

Record: 5-5

Playoffs? Yes

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