Birdie uses science to pick winner of A-K Valley game of the year in Week 8


Wednesday, October 19, 2022 | 5:00 PM

Every week, before he makes his picks, The Birdie likes to use his column to spin some wildly entertaining yarns.

(Editor’s note: Yarns not always entertaining.)

He also likes to split the sides of readers with hilarious jokes.

(Editor’s note: Jokes not always hilarious.)

But there’s no time for shenanigans this week. The Birdie is busy preparing for the game of the year, Highlands vs. Armstrong in the de facto Class 4A Greater Allegheny Conference championship game.

In picking a game as important as this, Birdie follows a five-step checklist.

1. Form. Birdie looks at who’s hot and who’s not. Highlands is averaging 45 points per game over its last four. Armstrong is averaging 46 per game over its last three. Both hot. Push.

2. Point differential. Armstrong is plus-185. Highlands is plus-190. Both great. Push.

3. Common opponents. The three teams Highlands and Armstrong have faced this season are North Catholic, Indiana and Mars. Highlands went 3-0, outscoring them 92-29. Armstrong went 3-0, outscoring them 137-64. Another push.

(It does, however, paint a picture of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each team: Highlands plays a little better defense, and Armstrong is a little more dynamic offensively.)

4. Mascot. A Golden Ram is not a real animal. There’s a ram with golden fleece in Greek mythology, but what the heck is that? A River Hawk is also not a real animal. The internet says ospreys are sometimes called river hawks, but by who? Probably the same people who call manatees sea cows. Push.

5. Famous football alumni Birdie can think of off the top of his head, including former schools in the district. Highlands has Har-Brack’s Cookie Gilchrist. Armstrong has Ford City’s Gus Frerotte.

Gus is cool, but Cookie is cooler. The Birdie’s pick is made. It’s Highlands. Science doesn’t lie.

Birdie’s methods gave him a 9-1 week in Week 7, so they’re, obviously, working. Now, on to Week 8.

Armstrong (7-1) at Highlands (8-0): Jokes aside, Birdie thinks the Golden Rams defense makes the difference. Highlands, 28-21

Burrell (5-3) at Derry (0-8): Combined record of the three teams that have beat the Bucs is 19-4. They have no bad losses. Burrell, 34-13

Fox Chapel (0-8) at Kiski Area (0-8): The Cavaliers have a few more weapons offensively. Kiski Area, 33-21

Freeport (7-1) at Valley (1-7): Yellowjackets are rolling. Freeport, 41-14

Hempfield (5-3) at Plum (3-5): Spartans are staggered after a 5-0 start. Mustangs had a good showing against Penn-Trafford last week. Plum, 21-20

Knoch (0-8) at East Allegheny (6-2): Wildcats made a statement last week against Deer Lakes. East Allegheny, 35-7

Serra Catholic (7-1) at Apollo-Ridge (4-4): There are some real solid teams in the middle of the Allegheny Conference standings, but Serra and Steel Valley are a different level. Serra Catholic, 27-13

Shady Side Academy (3-4) at Deer Lakes (4-4): A tough call. Bulldogs seem to have a little more momentum. Shady Side Academy, 20-19

Shenango (2-6) at Leechburg (6-2): Wildcats are having a down year. Blue Devils aren’t. Leechburg, 41-6

Springdale (0-8) at Jeannette (2-6): Jeannette is in the second year of a massive rebuild. Springdale is still in the first year. Jeannette, 33-13

Greensburg Central Catholic (6-2) at Riverview (3-5): Centurions are gearing up for the playoffs. Greensburg Central Catholic, 45-20

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