By Ron Holt
It was a good news, bad news scenario for Bixby’s Spartan football team after earning a first-round bye in the Class 6AI state playoffs which began statewide last Friday.
The good news: The Spartans (9-1) captured their first Class 6AI district championship which earned a first-round bye in the state playoffs, which was expanded to six teams qualifying from the two districts. A week off allowed any ailing Spartans time to heal.
The bad news: After losing the regular season finale 38-35 to Jenks at home last Thursday, the Spartans had an extra week to digest the loss – which snapped Bixby’s 58-game winning streak – while awaiting the winner of Enid-Edmond Memorial’s first-round battle.
“It’s a little irritating coming off a loss to dwell on that for two weeks and not having an opponent to focus on,” Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery said after practice last week. “It helps with some of our guys with nagging injuries.
“Our guys have been doing a good job … they’ve been mature about fixing mistakes and working. This group has always been a pretty good practice group. For not having a team to prepare for our guys have been extremely focused.”
In one of the more competitive 6AI first-round playoff games, Enid relied on a late fourth-down stop to win at Edmond Memorial, 32-27. The Bulldogs were inside Enid’s 20-yard line with less than a minute remaining when stopped on fourth down.
Enid’s win sets up a rematch between Bixby and the Plainsmen at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, in the Class 6AI quarterfinals at Bixby’s Lee Snider Stadium. In a District 1 meeting at Enid on October 7 the Spartans defeated the improved Plainsmen, 77-14.
“We built in some preparation for Enid and Memorial this week and we had some films to watch of both,” coach Montgomery added.
The Spartans also spent a couple of days dissecting the Jenks game film. Mistakes, which were overcome earlier this season, were magnified in the loss and became positive teaching moments for BHS coaches. “Jenks is a good team, their players are really good, and they are extremely well coached and likewise ours are too,” Montgomery said. “It’s a good film to coach off of … to make corrections. You had two evenly matched teams … and it comes down to making plays, breaking one tackle or getting more movement on a block, things like that.
“You don’t get that every week. Thursday night’s film was really good. We’ve taken a couple of days to pour over it and study it … that’s probably an advantage of a bye week.”
Enid, winners of three of its past five games, won its first playoff game since 2006 when the Plainsmen went 9-5, defeating Mustang (55-7) in the state quarterfinals and Owasso (35-14) in the semifinals before falling to Jenks (28-7) in the Class 6A state championship. Quarterback Austin Box, who later played at Oklahoma, was Enid’s leader that season.
The 2008 Plainsmen, who finished the season 7-4, lost 45-28 at Jenks in the first round that season. Enid, however, received a forfeit from Jenks after the Trojans were penalized by the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.
Edmond Memorial took the early lead before Enid rallied behind 6-1, 205-pound senior running back Luke Rauh, who rushed for 262 yards while scoring on runs of 24, 67, 34 and six yards. He has rushed for 20 TDs this season, Enid’s single-season rushing touchdown record.
The Plainsmen defenders, led by 5-9, 190-pound senior middle linebacker Carlos Alvarado, shares credit in the win at Edmond Memorial, stopping the Bulldogs on fourth down during a final second drive.
The earlier meeting between BHS and Plainsmen at Enid’s Bruce Selby Stadium featured a stunning start by the Spartans. Bixby erupted for an early 21-0 lead before taking its first offensive snap.
Bixby’s Jakeb Snyder returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, freshman Cord Nolan returned a mishandled punt attempt seven yards for a TD before senior Tyson Williams returned a Plainsmen punt 55 yards for a TD and 21-0 lead.
The Spartans first offensive play featured a 47-yard touchdown pass play from quarterback Connor Kirby to Cale Fugate increasing Bixby’s first quarter lead to 28-0. The early explosion set the tempo.
Enid’s scores included a 15-yard pass play from Brock Slater to Rauh and an impressive one-handed grab by the Plainsmen’s talented receiver Tykie Andrews, a 6-0, 177-pound senior, for a 70-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Aidan Robinson in the second quarter.
In the win at Enid, the Spartans compiled 516 yards of total offense while Enid finished with 218 total yards. Seven Spartans rushed the ball with five scoring touchdowns and seven Spartans caught passes with two scoring TDs.
Enid’s Rauh was held to 32 yards rushing on 16 carries while Andrews was the offensive leader with 11 pass receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. Andrews finished the regular season with 1,461 receiving yards and 17 TDs, which are both school records. He also had a school record of 120 pass receptions during the regular season.
NOTEBOOK – The Bixby-Enid quarterfinal winner advances to the state semifinals at a neutral site against the winner of Jenks’ quarterfinal game Friday at Mustang on Friday, Nov. 25. … Enid’s six wins this season are the most – and the first winning season – since the 2010 Plainsmen finished 6-4. … Enid won large school state championships in 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1983. … EHS coach Rashaun Woods, a two-time All-American at Oklahoma State, came to Enid in 2019. In the 2019 season, Enid was 0-10, followed by a 3-8 record in 2020 and 3-7 last season. He came to Enid from Oklahoma City’s Star- Spencer, which was 0-10 the season before his arrival in 2013. Star-Spencer won a state championship in 2017. … Offensively, Bixby is led by the quarterback tandem of Connor Kirby (1,234 yards passing, 20 touchdowns) and Austin Havens (1,175 passing yards and 15 TDs). Kirby is the rushing leader (806 yards and 14 TDs) while Spartan receiving leaders include Cale Fugate (30 catches, 573 yards and 10 TDs), Kordell Gouldsby (38 catches, 576 yards and six TDs), Luke Hasz (23 catches, 442 yards, six TDS) and Jakeb Snyder (37 catches, 310 yards, 5 TDs). Defensively, Bixby is led in tackles by linebacker Hank Puckett (94 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks), Cooper Parker (59 tackles, five tackles for loss), Fugate (51 tackles, two tackles for loss, 4 interceptions) and Snyder (45 tackles, 3 for loss, 3 interceptions). … Bixby averages 64.6 points a game while allowing only 10.6 points an outing.
SHOW TIME – For the second straight week, Bixby’s football program was featured on national television at Lee Snider Stadium. The Spartans’ regular season finale against Jenks was televised nationally by ESPNU.
Last Friday morning, Bixby’s football program was featured on NBC’s Today Show on its Friday Morning Lights segment. Today Show hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb talked with Tulsa’s KJRH anchor Karen Larsen, who interviewed Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery.
The two-minute segment not only highlighted the Spartans’ football success but also featured the
cheerleaders, poms and the Pride of Bixby band playing the school’s fight song. It was an entertaining, well-deserved promotion for the Spartan program, school and community.
SCOREBOARD – Bixby’s 2022 Results (9-1): Owasso, at TU (W, 49-14), at Springdale (Arkansas) Har-Ber (W, 59-0), Sand Springs (W, 67-3), at Norman North (W, 63-7), Southmoore (W, 80-0), at Enid (W, 77-14), Broken Arrow (W, 77-17), Westmoore (W, 73-6), at Moore (W, 64-7), Jenks (L, 38-35).
Enid’s 2022 Results (6-5): Muskogee (L, 28-26), Ponca City (W, 32-20), at Edmond North (W, 34-17), at Jenks (L, 55-28), Moore (W, 49-35), Bixby (L, 77-14), Westmoore (W, 9-7), at Broken Arrow (L, 45-24), Southmoore (W. 45-14), at Norman North (L, 52-32), at Edmond Memorial, first round playoff (W, 32- 27).
CLASS 6AI PLAYOFFS
Friday (Nov. 11) First Round Results
Enid 32, Edmond Memorial 27; Jenks 68, Edmond North 14; Broken Arrow 47, Norman 20; Owasso 41,
Friday (Nov. 18) Quarterfinals, 7 p.m.
Enid at Bixby, Jenks at Mustang, Broken Arrow at Union, Owasso at Norman North.