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The Birdie predicts week 1

| Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009

The Birdie was flipping through the sports pages recently when he came across a strange story about the football team at Saint Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Va.

Because the team's helmets and football pads hadn't arrived yet, the Division II school cancelled its season opener against West Virginia Wesleyan.

"What?" The Birdie squawked. "That's like forgetting your head at home, although I know people who have done that."

The Birdie simply wouldn't accept the cancellation. It's football. The show must go on. Where could he find helmets and football pads in a pinch?

"Quick, somebody find a box of those plastic batting helmets they sell at the ballpark," the cocky bird said. "And ask grandma if we can borrow all of her blouses that have shoulder pads. They will have to do."

Despite the Birdie's best efforts, that college game was nixed. However, all of the local high school season openers are ready to go, and the Birdie's relieved about that.

"I can't wait," the little, yellow fellow said. "Now, where did I put my ticket?"

FRIDAY

No. 6 FREEPORT (6-4) at KITTANNING (5-4)

Here's a match-up that never should be cancelled. This rivalry dates to 1924. Freeport leads the all-time series, 37-28-1, and will add to that advantage.

Freeport, 28-21.

VALLEY (7-3) at No. 9 FORD CITY (9-2)

Both teams made the WPIAL playoffs last year but were hit hard by graduation. The winner will have a head-start on getting back to the postseason.

Valley, 18-14.

DEER LAKES (2-7) at APOLLO-RIDGE (3-6)

With lots of passing and scoring, this could be one of the wilder games of opening night. Expect a decision in the final seconds, but give the Vikings a slight edge for being at home.

Apollo-Ridge, 34-27.

WEST SHAMOKIN (0-9) at BURRELL (3-6)

The Bucs beat West Shamokin, 34-0, last year. Expect a similar score this time around. If anything, Burrell has improved.

Burrell, 35-0.

BETHEL PARK (15-1) at KISKI AREA (1-9)

Defending WPIAL Class AAAA champion Bethel Park lost a majority of its starters to graduation, but the sideline isn't bare for the Black Hawks -- as Kiski Area and new coach Troy Wilson will see.

Bethel Park, 21-14.

PLUM (1-9) at INDIANA (8-3)

Plum unveils a new head coach, Frank Sacco. Indiana unveils a new artificial playing surface. Indiana will win on its home turf.

Indiana, 28-14.

FOX CHAPEL (4-6) at HIGHLANDS (11-1)

Fox Chapel has lost three consecutive season openers to Highlands. This time, the Foxes will be celebrating when it's over.

Fox Chapel, 24-14.

HOPEWELL (8-3) at KNOCH (2-7)

He's only a sophomore, but Hopewell running back Rushel Shell is an extraordinary talent. Knoch's top priority is to contain him.

Hopewell, 28-7.

MONACA (11-2) at SPRINGDALE (6-4)

Springdale gets a tough test by hosting last year's WPIAL Class A runner-up. The Dynamos are up for the challenge.

Springdale, 14-12.

JEFFERSON-MORGAN (5-4) at LEECHBURG (0-9)

Jefferson-Morgan has more speed, but improving Leechburg will keep this one close until the fourth quarter.

Jefferson-Morgan, 28-7.

SATURDAY

RIVERVIEW (3-7) at SHENANGO (3-7)

Here's a rare Saturday night game. Versatile quarterback Terrel Craighead and the Raiders are feeling special.

Riverview, 20-13.

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