AP NEWS

After considering holdout, The Birdie is back prognosticating A-K Valley games

September 3, 2018

After flying back north this summer from his undisclosed offseason home, The Birdie heard all about the contract dispute between the Pittsburgh Steelers and a certain star running back.

And to the surprise of no one who knows him, he sympathizes with the player. Plenty of people have called him a diva in his many years picking games in the Alle-Kiski Valley, and he’s more than familiar with angering fan bases.

“I’m pretty sure the fine folks of Kittanning still don’t forgive me for the 2013 season,” he said. “But maybe they understand me more now that they’re River Hawks. And I know Leechburg feels bedeviled that I constantly pick against them, but at this point, I can’t help myself.”

Like Le’Veon Bell, The Birdie considered his own holdout from the Valley News Dispatch this summer.

“He wants to get paid like a running back and receiver, which I understand. I thought I should get paid like a comedian and a prognosticator,” he said.

“I even wrote a rap about it, but nobody seems to want to hear my side of the story.”

At the 11th hour, a holdout was averted over a meal at Phillippi’s -- “Home of the Birdville Pie” -- leading The Birdie back for yet another season of predictions, much to the consternation of local football followers.

“Sorry to disappoint all of you, but that’s what I’m here for,” he crowed.

The Birdie’s 2017 preseason predictions had some misses: a 1-5 start put curtains to his Valley playoff pick, while Fox Chapel did make the postseason. Kiski Area fell well short of his 5-5 prediction, while Highlands did better than his 3-6 pick. And even he didn’t see the A-K Valley’s three playoff qualifiers going three and out.

But he had a strong season overall, posting a record of 84-18 for an .823 winning percentage.

“Can’t win ’em all,” he said, “but I win enough.”

The question is ... will your team win enough?

Apollo-Ridge

Injuries derailed a promising start for the Vikings last season. They’re now picking on teams of their own size, but will that be enough?

Record: 5-5

Playoffs: No

Burrell

Watch out for flying footballs as new coach Shawn Liotta implements his high-octane offense. But the Bucs won’t get it going enough this fall.

Record: 2-8

Playoffs: No

Deer Lakes

The Lancers have some talent, no doubt, and they made the best of a difficult situation by promoting Tim Burk to head coach. But they won’t get a promotion to the postseason.

Record: 3-6

Playoffs: No

Fox Chapel

The Foxes nearly pulled off a first-round stunner against Penn-Trafford last season, but with virtually the entire starting lineup graduated, just making the playoffs would be shocking.

Record: 2-8

Playoffs: No

Freeport

The Yellowjackets’ 2017 postseason ended with a first-round thud, but the A-K Valley’s deepest team in returning experience should create buzz again this fall.

Record: 7-2

Playoffs: Yes

Highlands

Only one record matters to the Golden Rams this year, and that’s the win/loss record. It should be good, but maybe not good enough.

Record: 6-4

Playoffs: No

Kiski Area

There are skill players all around for the Cavaliers in coach Sam Albert’s second season, but where’s the beef?

Record: 3-7

Playoffs: No

Knoch

Like celebrity deaths, long-term injuries to key starters unfortunately came in threes for the Knights this offseason.

Record: 4-5

Playoffs: No

Leechburg

The Blue Devils have the size and the spirit, but do they have the skill -- especially in the most difficult conference in Class A?

Record: 1-9

Playoffs: No

Plum

A rash of graduations means the most familiar face at Plum this fall is coach Matt Morgan. Alas, he’ll be on the sidelines.

Record: 3-7

Playoffs: No

Riverview

Just like Jon Gruden in Oakland, Todd Massack returns for his second stint as coach of the Raiders. Just win, baby? Don’t bet on it.

Record: 2-7

Playoffs: No

Springdale

A proud playoff tradition -- 17 appearances in 18 years -- exists in Springdale, but a narrowed postseason field and inexperienced roster will do the Dynamos no favors.

Record: 3-6

Playoffs: No

Valley

The Vikings dropped to Class 2A after a disappointing 2017, but they’re poised for a bigger year in a smaller division.

Record: 6-4

Playoffs: Yes

AP RADIO
Update hourly