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The Birdie is feeling the heat in the A-K Valley

| Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, 9:24 p.m.

The Birdie heard a lot about the weather over the past week, record-setting temperatures and the like.

He felt the heat, too, only in a different sense.

“Nobody was hotter than me last week,” Birdie said, referencing his perfect 9-0 record picking the Week 4 slate. “They call this Indian Summer, but I prefer to call it Birdie Autumn. Didn't sweat a single pick, not at all.”

It seems modesty doesn't fit the Birdie well. Last week he ate crow after a disappointing Week 3. This week, he's just crowing.

“There were a lot of doubters, but I wasn't one of them,” he said. “It's midseason, so I was just about to round into midseason form. Now get ready for the big playoff push. I'm about to turn up the heat.”

Although he enjoyed his prediction perfection, the Birdie mourns the loss of the legendary Chuck Wagner, who brought his coaching brilliance to Oakmont, Fox Chapel and Springdale and touched the lives of countless players, opposing coaches and community members.

And yes, even certain Birdies.

“What he did can never be forgotten,” Birdie said. “People talk about the titles, but his mentorship of players was even more important. Great coach, better man.

“Rest in peace, coach. You'll be missed.”

And here are the Week 5 picks:

Albert Gallatin (1-3) at Highlands (2-2)

Highlands experienced the downside of its pass-heavy offense last week by giving the ball away against Mars. Albert Gallatin pulled a big upset of West Mifflin, but the Golden Rams won't give them another one. Highlands, 35-14

Deer Lakes (0-4) at Brentwood (2-3)

It's another trip to the South Hills for the Lancers, who will try to get their season going north. They experienced some positives in the second half against Valley, but their offense still remains too inconsistent to trust at this point. Brentwood, 21-14

Ellwood City (1-3) at Valley (1-3)

Ellwood City shocked defending state champion Beaver Falls two weeks ago for the Wolverines' first win in two years. Meanwhile, Valley found the key to its offense last week: give the ball to Deonte Ross and let him work. Expect the Vikings to follow the same formula this week. Valley, 27-13

Fox Chapel (1-4, 1-3) at Moon (3-2, 2-1)

These teams are making a habit of playing games down to the wire, and Fox Chapel had a heartbreaker last week. This is where the Foxes began their five-game winning streak last year, but Moon can crater their playoff hopes with a win. If your nails aren't completely bitten off already, this might be the week. Moon, 21-20

Freeport (3-1, 2-0) at Burrell (1-4, 0-3)

The Yellowjackets got all they could handle from Shady Side Academy but survived, while Burrell ultimately couldn't hold on against Apollo-Ridge. The Bucs will battle again, but Freeport's depth will prove too much. Freeport, 31-14

Greensburg Central Catholic (1-4, 0-2) at Leechburg (0-5, 0-4)

The Birdie's mom always told him not to say anything if he had nothing nice to say, and he might take that advice this week. Certainly there's nothing positive to say about Leechburg's first half against Springdale. GCC, 21-7

Plum (2-3, 2-2) at Armstrong (2-3, 0-3)

The River Hawks lost Zane and are now in some pain, but they took Franklin Regional to overtime last week. Plum needs to get its run defense in order if it has any hope of qualifying for the playoffs, and that might not be easy against Armstrong's running QB, Dawson Porter. Armstrong, 27-14

Seton LaSalle (4-0, 3-0) at Apollo-Ridge (4-1, 2-1)

Apollo-Ridge keeps finding playmakers, with the newest one freshman running back Logan Harmon. But the Vikings will need to catch a “Train” — Seton LaSalle star Lionel Deanes — to win this one, and it might be difficult for them to keep up with QB Kyle Fitzroy's status in question. Seton LaSalle, 28-20

Springdale (2-3, 1-1) at Riverview (1-3, 1-3)

Emotions will be high at this rivalry game, especially after the death of legendary coach Chuck Wagner, who brought championships to both communities. Riverview will hang in there tough, as Chuck would say, but Springdale thrives on its own toughness. Springdale, 28-7

West Allegheny (4-0) at Kiski Area (1-4)

The Cavaliers picked up the first victory of the Sam Albert era last week, but they face a major step up in competition this week against Big Game Bob Palko and his top-ranked team. Win No. 2 for Sam probably won't come this week. West Allegheny, 38-10

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