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The Birdie appreciates the underdogs in the A-K Valley

September 23, 2018

Last week: 4-2

Season: 4-2

The Birdie heard plenty of chirping late Friday night from the Leechburg zip code after the Blue Devils beat Apollo-Ridge and ended their 11-game losing streak.

While he didn’t expect the win, he did expect the response. After all, he’s provided enough bulletin board material to Leechburg over the years that it’d be no surprise if the Blue Devils’ locker room had newspapers as wallpaper.

What amused the Birdie after this win was that many assumed he’d be upset about the upset.

Believe it or not, The Birdie roots for the underdog.

“Of course I do,” he said. “Look at me, I’m a cartoon bird. You think people are scared of me? But what I may lack in intimidation, I make up for in dedication. Nobody works harder than me.”

Much as The Birdie likes a good underdog story, when he picks games he has to listen to his head and not his heart: “Gotta be smart about it,” he said.

Week 1 means all of the Alle-Kiski Valley teams will take the field for real, and there are a few opportunities for upsets.

Avonworth (1-0) at Valley (1-0)

The Vikings still control the bypass, but they need to find more offensive balance if they want more than that. Avonworth, 28-14

Deer Lakes (0-0) at Elizabeth Forward (0-0)

New Lancers coach Tim Burk’s got talent, but for now EF has the pedigree. Elizabeth Forward, 21-14

Derry (1-0) at Freeport (0-0)

The ’Jackets might not be allergic to Derry, but it might give them some problems. Derry, 21-20

Highlands (0-1) at Keystone Oaks (1-0)

Highlands’ offense needs to avoid the turnover bug. It still might not be enough against KO and star back Michael Daure. Keystone Oaks, 35-21

Jeannette (1-0) at Leechburg (1-0)

As unbelievable as Leechburg’s Week Zero win was, beating the defending state champs would be incomprehensible. Jeannette, 35-7

North Catholic (1-0) at Burrell (0-1)

The Bucs showed guts against Valley, but North Catholic’s talent is too much. North Catholic, 35-14

North Hills (1-0) at Fox Chapel (0-1)

It’d be much easier to pick the Foxes if they hadn’t lost virtually every single major contributor to graduation. North Hills, 35-10

Plum (1-0) at Franklin Regional (0-0)

The Mustangs posted an impressive Week Zero victory over Highlands, but Franklin Regional’s experience will win out in Week 1. Franklin Regional, 21-14

Knoch (0-1) at Blackhawk (1-0)

The Knights’ offensive struggles last week pose a concern heading into their Northwest Eight opener. Blackhawk, 21-10

Riverview (0-0) at GCC (1-0)

The second Todd Massack era will get off to a bumpy start against a GCC team that returned all but five starters. GCC, 24-7

Shaler (1-0) at Kiski Area (1-0)

Shaler pulled off a Week Zero stunner, snapping a 24-game losing streak. The Cavaliers’ defense will prevent a Titans winning streak. Kiski Area, 21-7

Saturday

Apollo-Ridge (0-1) at Summit Academy (0-1)

Expect a bounce-back performance for the Vikings after the loss to Leechburg. Apollo-Ridge, 28-7

Springdale (0-0) at Imani Christian (1-0)

The Dynamos shouldn’t yield 80 to last season’s WPIAL runner-up, but it’s hard to see them hanging too long. Imani Christian, 42-14

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