Birdie: All playoff games at neutral sites
The Birdie is defending his turf.
Your Alle-Kiski Valley's lord of the lowdown loves playoff time, so much in fact that it got him into trouble.
He was wrestled to the cold ground by WPIAL officials because he sneaked into the league offices and stole bracket sheets before Monday's pairings meeting.
“They overturned me,” Birdie said. “I could see the PIAA doing that, but the WPIAL? Come on man. I didn't leak your brackets.”
But Mr. Birdie is all about fairness. He thinks all playoff games should be played at neutral sites.
“They let first- and second-place teams play at home, which is nice and all,” he said, “but some fields just aren't equipped to handle playoff crowds. And all quarterfinal and semifinal games are played at sites that have artificial turf. Many home sites have grass. The finals are at Heinz Field, which has grass. Where's the consistency?”
Birdie has never been a big wrestling fan — he went limp when the WPIAL guys wrapped him up in the parking lot — but he is taking a strong stance on the neutral position.
Now to another matter.
The Birdie admits to being a little off — OK, way off — on Kittanning's season. (He picked them to go 2-7, oops.)
But he thinks it's unfair that Wildcats fans keep calling him out on Twitter.
“Going to flag them for taunting,” he said. “Or maybe celebrating. Refs seem to like that call a lot this season.”
The way the Birdie sees it, he deserves a thank-you tweet.
“As I have noted before, I not only provide predictions, but I also give bulletin-board material,” he said. “Ask other teams. Freeport knows. Ford City knows. They also forget to send me Christmas cards, though. I work in mysterious ways but I don't hate you Kittanning.”
He hopes to patch things up in the postseason.
“Kittanning and I have a love-hate relationship,” Birdie said. “I love me and they hate me. But they have made me a believer.
“Maybe you'll be nicer when you're the (tee hee) River Hawks.”
Now for first-round picks:
Kiski Area (5-4) at Upper St. Clair (9-0)
Same matchup as last year in the opening round. Kiski Area will make it a better game, but same result.
Upper St. Clair, 42-14
New Castle (7-2) at Highlands (6-3)
Highlands needs to get back on track after two trying weeks, but it won't come easy.
New Castle, 21-14
Yough (5-4) at Kittanning (9-0)
The Wildcats get it done in their opener.
Valley (6-3) at Mt. Pleasant (9-0)
Valley has some question marks heading into the playoffs.
Mt. Pleasant, 35-21
Apollo-Ridge (7-2) at Beth-Center (9-0)
Look for the second playoff win in Apollo-Ridge history.