The Birdie says field turf is the way to go
The Birdie is a traditionalist if ever there was one.
He still uses pencil and paper to keep stats, he drinks only Coke Classic, he wears jorts to the office, and he has driven the same busted Chevette since the 1980s — that stems from his income; getting paid for each correct game doesn't exactly fill his piggy bank (yes, he still has one of those, too).
“I'm old-school,” Birdie said, sharpening his whittled Black Beauty pencil that now looks like it belongs on a golf cart steering wheel. “I'm, how do you say, a throwback. Vintage.”
That said, he has been more open-minded of late. He still resists change — unless it's half-dollars and quarters — but he at least takes new things into consideration.
Joining Twitter a few years ago was a big step forward for the A-K Valley's gridiron great but he won't attempt Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Pokémon Go.
“Get to the point of this column, ghost writer,” Birdie chimes, dumping some tiny rubberized chips out of his Chuck Taylor hi-tops onto the office floor. “I like artificial turf, OK? There, I said it.”
Impressed by turf fields around the Valley, including new ones at Freeport (he likes the fancy chairs in the press box), Deer Lakes and Kiski Area, the Birdie wants every local school to get green carpets for football.
“I know it costs money, but you'll see it's worth it,” he said. “Think of the money you'll save on laundry detergent. And no giant gopher holes to fill.
“The only drawback is mouse poo in the shoes.”
The Birdie even told Penn State coach James Franklin, who was at Springdale last week, that Beaver Stadium should get turf.
“I also told him his team would lose a close one,” Birdie said. “The glare he gave me could've cut steel.”
The Birdie knows a landscaper who used to play halfback for a local team so he's going to have his backyard replaced with turf.
“No more grass stains for Mrs. Birdie to complain about — and no more cutting grass,” Birdie said. “That's time I could be spending watching film. Or, Golden Girls reruns.”
So Apollo-Ridge, Burrell, Leechburg and Springdale, this column is for you.
After a rough 4-4 week, he spins the wheel for Week 3.
Aliquippa (2-1) at Freeport (2-0)
A playoff rematch that features many new faces on both teams. Aliquippa is coming off — gulp — a loss? Freeport looks good but hasn't faced a test like this since, well, last year's semifinals.
Shady Side Academy (0-2, 0-2) at Apollo-Ridge (1-2, 0-1)
With Touchdown Brown's return still a week away or so — SSA exhales — the Indians should get it done behind their dual-threat QB (who hails from New Kensington, by the way).
Shady Side Academy, 23-20
Seton La-Salle (1-1, 1-1) at Burrell (2-1, 1-0)
This is a sneaky good game. Valley took down Seton-La Salle and now the Rebels have to come back to the A-K to play a hard-nosed Bucs team. But Burrell is banged up.
Seton-La Salle, 28-21
Steel Valley (2-0) at Valley (1-1)
The schedule-makers were in a bad mood when they made Valley's gridiron slate. Steel Valley can put up the points. Valley won't be able to stay with the Ironmen down the stretch.
Steel Valley, 40-28
Keystone Oaks (2-0, 1-0) at Deer Lakes (1-1, 1-1)
Deer Lakes has shown the ability to throw, but Keystone Oaks has the best passing offense in the conference.
Keystone Oaks, 34-14
Highlands (1-1, 1-1) at Knoch (0-2, 0-1)
Highlands actually gets a rare matchup in the A-K Valley. Stop the presses. Can't stop the Golden Rams, though.
Kiski Area (2-1, 2-0) at Latrobe (0-3, 0-1)
Kiski Area has won two in a row. The Cavaliers will make it three straight for the first time since 2009. Birdie Googled it.
Kiski Area, 23-10
Leechburg (0-3, 0-2) at Bishop Canevin (0-1, 0-1)
Leechburg has not been able to sustain scoring drives, and that won't win games in the Eastern — especially on the road.
Bishop Canevin, 17-12
Beth-Center (0-2) at Springdale (1-2)
Springdale showed it can make stops against No. 1 Clairton last week. The Dynamos will put it all together against a 2A team before getting back to conference play.