The Birdie viewed a good fight last week in Westmoreland County
After dishing out $100 from his piggy bank — he had a part-timer roll a big pile of change he dumped in the center of the newsroom — the Birdie regrets wasting his hard-earned money on a pay-per-view fight.
“Mayweather-McGregor wasn't worth penny candy,” Birdie said, wearing a pair of boxing gloves around the office and lightly jabbing file cabinets. “Norwin vs. Penn-Trafford was a much better fight. Two good football teams doing what they do best. Mixing MMA and boxing was like mixing ping-pong and tennis, or long-drive guys trying to play the pro golf tour.
“It's like those pretenders who try to pick high-school football games. They just can't compete with the big boys. Stay in your lane and leave it to the experts.”
While Birdie took a couple of upper-cuts himself in Week Zero — “Thanks a lot, Yough and Mt. Pleasant” — he finished 7-2 but is determined to give the people a better fight this week.
“It's go time,” he said. “It's officially Week 1. Everybody's playing real games and we can lose that preseason tag. Real football.”
The Birdie talked to some coaches after Week Zero and many of them reacted like NFL coaches do after preseason games.
“The guys who lost were like, ‘It's only Week Zero, it doesn't count toward playoffs,' ” Birdie said. “The ones who won offered, ‘We looked great. I like where we're at.' ”
With his piggy bank super-glued back together and staring at him as it sat empty on his desk, Birdie got back to work with his Week 1 picks.
“No nickel and diming,” he said.
McKeesport (0-0, 0-0) at Franklin Regional (0-0, 0-0)
The only teams in the 5A Big East that did not play a game last week, the Tigers and Panthers are primed to kick off the season. McKeesport will overcome a slow start with big plays.
Altoona (1-0, 0-0) at Norwin (0-1, 0-0)
Norwin has a thrifty offense and once it gets churning, the Knights will be right in the mix. “That girls soccer team is a dandy in North Huntingdon,” Birdie said. “But looks like the football team has a stingy defense, too.”
Greensburg Salem (0-1, 0-0) at Ringgold (0-0, 0-0)
After playing an emotional rivalry game at Hempfield, the Golden Lions hit the road again. Experience from the opening week will pay off.
Greensburg Salem, 21-16
Derry (1-0, 0-0) at Elizabeth Forward (0-0, 0-0)
Possessing the football has been a hallmark at Derry, and if the Trojans can continue that trend and limit big chunks of yardage, they could win their ninth straight conference game.
Chartiers-Houston (0-1) at Jeannette (1-0)
Jeannette showed it has plenty of weapons on offense, but the defense needs to tighten up, Birdie said. “Those back-and-fourth games will drive a coach crazy,” he said. “That secondary is better than it showed last week.”
Imani Christian (1-0, 0-0) at Greensburg C.C. (1-0, 0-0)
Imani's hype train rumbles down the tracks to Carbon, where GCC awaits with the same record. “That old press is falling apart,” Birdie said. “Let's see if the Centurions' defense can hold together.”
Imani Christian, 26-6
Hempfield (1-0, 0-0) at Canon-McMillan (1-0, 0-0)
The Birdie had a fantasy draft with his peeps before the season — “Don't tell my boss,” he said — and Hempfield's QB and TE were off the board before Birdie got back from the vending machine with his Goldfish crackers.
Latrobe (0-1, 0-0) at Gateway (1-0, 0-0)
Latrobe moved the ball at times against Derry but Gateway will be a much more difficult challenge. “Speed kills,” Birdie quipped.
Penn-Trafford (1-0, 0-0) at Connellsville (1-0, 0-0)
The Birdie was wandering around the parking lot at Penn-Trafford yelling “Marko,” but “Nobody answered,” Birdie said. “That's because he's at Connellsville now and wants nothing more than to score an upset against his old team. Sorry, this defense is poison-mean.”
Albert Gallatin (0-0, 0-0) at Belle Vernon (0-0, 0-0)
The Birdie did not see film on either team's scrimmage from last week, but he didn't need to. “BVA loves that gold carpet, and they'll start strong on it,” Birdie said.
Belle Vernon, 27-7
Mt. Pleasant (0-1, 0-0) at Waynesburg (0-0, 0-0)
Mt. Pleasant has a proud football tradition and the Birdie thinks last week's loss to Laurel Highlands was just a hiccup. “Happens to the best of us,” he said. “Coke Zero, and Week Zero, give me hiccups too.”
Mt. Pleasant, 22-16
South Park (0-0, 0-0) at Southmoreland (0-0, 0-0)
South Park will show why most coaches in the conference are calling it the favorite.
South Park, 32-12
Monessen (0-1, 0-0) at Carmichaels (0-0, 0-0)
Carmichaels was the top team in the Tri-County South a year ago and still has the talent to stay at the top. “Monessen is no slouch, though,” Birdie said.
Yough (0-1) at Beth-Center (1-0)
Yough has a strong running game but needs its defense to match the intensity. “That happens and watch the Cougars go,” Birdie said.
Ligonier Valley (1-0, 1-0) at Saltsburg (0-1, 0-1)
Ligonier Valley will continue to pile up the points.
Ligonier Valley, 44-14