The Birdie has hidden his identity for decades, dating all the way back to the 1930s when he was depicted as Woody Woodpecker in this very newspaper.
Recently, the A-K Valley’s high school football legend heard that Plum was out to unmask him and reveal his true character.
“Not going to happen,” the Birdie said, sliding his Clark Kent glasses up his beak. “That would tarnish a tradition. The good Plum teams of the past never found me out and this one won’t either. I have, however, discovered these Plum Mustangs are not who we thought they were.”
And we let them off the hook …
(Ghost writer inserts Dennis Green reference, gets it past copy desk).
The Birdie picked Plum to finish 2-7 and miles away from the playoffs. But the Mustangs made him look silly — what else is new? — and pulled a major upset in the first round, beating Penn Hills, 17-6. The win set off alarm bells in the Birdie’s office (broom closet).
“I had to make sure my Twitter machine wasn’t broken,” the Birdie said, having a Coke and a smile. “Thought it was spitting out bad scores.”
He claims he almost picked the upset but had too much faith in Penn Hills and its A-K Valley West coaching staff.
“I paced the VND hallways for days pondering that one,” Birdie said. “I even slipped on our newly-waxed floors in the process. I couldn’t bring myself to pick the upset; thought Penn Hills’ offense, which Springdale used in the late 2000s, would be unstoppable. They said it wouldn’t work in Quad-A.”
While Apollo-Ridge’s lightning-strike offense has been a thrilling, and Highlands’ run, despite a rash of injuries, has interested the Birdie, Plum has captivated him.
Plum has earned the respect of the Birdie unlike few others, but … he did his homework, and doesn’t think the Mustangs can make it two stunners in a row.
“This team has defied the odds all season,” he said. “But when November comes, you know snow is soon to follow. Some things are inevitable. Plum’s run has been incredible, and their defense has shined, but beating Penn Hills and McKeesport back-to-back, in the playoffs, is too much to ask. It would take a real superhero to pull that one off. Are there even any phone booths left in Plum?
“Feel free to prove me wrong again, though, Plum. Isn’t that what I’m here for, no matter who I am?”
While he finds the game sites to be a bit suspect, the Birdie is ready for Friday.
“Highlands/Seton-La Salle at Valley? Yeah, that’s halfway between the two schools, right, WPIAL ( tee-hee)?” he said. “Not that I’m complaining. Less gas for the Chevette.
“Apollo-Ridge/Washington at Latrobe? Another odd one. How they pick these sites is beyond me. I mean, there’s no Greensburg Pike in Greensburg, either, so there’s that.”
Now, his predictions:
Plum (6-4) vs. McKeesport (9-1) at Norwin
If Plum can produce points, the defense and special teams can do the heavy lifting. But McKeesport’s speed will wear down the Mustangs in the end. Plum will run out of gas.
Apollo-Ridge (9-1) vs. Washington (10-0) at Latrobe
Apollo-Ridge: the most entertainment value you can get in the Valley for 7 bucks ($5 for students, presale). The frenetic Vikings will out-touchdown another opponent and make the Class AA final four. On your blocks.
Highlands (10-0) vs. Seton-La Salle (9-1) at Valley
Injuries have put a deflating dent in a promising season for the Golden Rams, and the voids they have caused will show, particularly when it comes to pass defense. The Rebels can zing it, and they’ll do something nobody else has done: solve the Rams.
Seton-La Salle, 28-24