By Ron Holt

Taking nothing for granted and respecting all opponents – unbeaten Bixby’s approach all season – paid dividends for the Spartans last Friday night in an 81-6 Class 6AII-District 2 romp over short-handed Putnam City West, delighting a large homecoming crowd at Lee Snider Stadium.

Bixby (5-0, 2-0) scored early and often, leading the Patriots (0-5, 0-2) by 39-0 after one quarter and 67-0 by halftime. Spartan reserves played inspired football during the second half which featured a constant running clock.

The Spartans go on the road Friday (Oct. 8), traveling to Choctaw for a battle between district favorites and opponents in the 2020 Class 6AII state championship game. It’ll be the feature game in the state.

Bixby produced points on all its early possessions. Senior Braylin Presley caught a 17-year touchdown pass from senior quarterback Christian Burke to open the scoring barrage before scoring from eight yards out for BHS’s second TD.

Connor Nolan kicked a conversion and Connor Kirby ran for a two-point conversion as Bixby led 15-0 with 9:20 left in the opening stanza.

Burke connected with junior Jakeb Snyder for a 40-yard touchdown while Nolan kicked an extra point and 37-yard field goal for a 25-0 lead at the 4:45 mark. Putnam West mishandled a snap deep in its territory with Bixby senior Miles Hill jumping on the ball in the end zone for a TD and 32-0 lead.

Kirby wrapped up the first quarter scoring parade rushing seven yards for a TD and 39-0 Bixby lead with 56 seconds showing.

In the second stanza, Kirby scored on runs of nine and one yards, Zack Blankenship scored on a 12-yard pass from Burke and Aidan Hill ran three yards to paydirt with 16 seconds left, increasing the halftime advantage to 67-0.

“They practiced good this week and I think we came out, executed and played well,” Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery said of the Spartans. “I was pleased with them. We’ve got really good depth … we have a lot of kids and a lot of good kids … I’m proud of those guys, too.”

Bixby ended the scoring with its second defensive touchdown when senior Brady Gresham recovered a Patriot fumble in the end zone with 2:59 showing in the third quarter, giving BHS a 74-0 lead. A 15-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Clay Peters increased the Spartans’ lead to 81-0 with 7:22 left.

Putnam West avoided being shut out when senior quarterback Elijah James hit sophomore wide receiver Aaron Edwards with a 44-yard TD pass as time expired.

In limited action, Burke was 9-of-16 passing for 176 yards and three TDs. Backups Camden McCrary was 7-for-8 passing for 82 yards and Peters was 1-for-1 for 28 yards. Quarterback Connor Kirby led Bixby’s balanced rushing attack with six carries for 45 yards and three scores. Presley had four carries for 32 yards.

Snyder’s two receptions for 50 yards and one TD led a crowded receiving corp. Christian Kaiser caught three passes for 49 yards, Preston Solomon had one catch for 46 yards and Presley had three receptions for 43 yards and a TD.

Bixby and Choctaw battled twice last season with the Spartans nudging the Yellowjackets, 17-14, in the 2020 Class 6AII State Championship game at University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium in Edmond. The Spartans also defeated Choctaw, 24-13, in a district game at Lee Snider Stadium last season.

Steele Wasel, a 6-5 junior quarterback, was productive in both games for the Yellowjackets. In the 24-13 loss at Bixby, Wasel was 16-for-33 passing for 297 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The teams were tied at 7-all at halftime before Bixby – behind Braylin Presley’s 167 yards and three TDs – pulled away in the second half and used a defensive stand late to capture the win.

In Choctaw’s first state championship appearance in 60 years – the Yellowjackets won the Class B state title in 1960 – Wasel passed for 324 yards. He threw a 38-yard TD pass to junior tailback Latrell Ray and an 85-yard TD pass to then senior Wesley Zeigler.

“They are super talented,” Montgomery said of Choctaw. “On offense they’ve got a lot of guys back. The quarterback is really good, and the tailback is real good. They’ve got DeSean Brown, the defensive end everyone wants. He’s as good as advertised … he plays hard.

“I think this might be the best defensive line we’ve played all year. They’ll be ready for us,” Montgomery added.

Wasel was also victimized by the Spartan defense in the state title game. He was intercepted by Bixby’s young defensive backs Dylan Hasz and Snyder.

Hasz’s interception and one yard return set up Connor Nolan’s 29-yard second quarter field goal, giving BHS a 17-7 lead.

Snyder intercepted Wasel after CHS drove to Spartan nine. He stepped in front of a Wasel pass at Bixby’s one. He returned it 29 yards to the Bixby 30, thwarting a serious Yellowjacket drive.

Starters D. Hasz and Snyder are proud of the Spartans focused play in recent weeks while looking forward to the upcoming challenge.

“We just practice the same every week. It’s not about the score at the end of the game but about getting better every week, which will help us out in the long run,” said Snyder, who has 13 pass receptions for 178 yards and three TD’s this season while logging 13 tackles from his defensive back position.

“Choctaw likes to run around and put the football in the air. They’re a good team. The interception last year against them in the finals was big to me and good for the team. I was just doing my part. I’ve gotten better this year because of more experience … I’m feeling comfortable out here.”

  1. Hasz finished with two tackles in limited playing time against the Patriots while returning two punts for 52 yards against Putnam West. “Each week you either get better or worse, so we work to get better,” said Hasz, who has 11 receptions for 74 yards for two TD’s this season while also recording 15 tackles from his secondary post.

“Choctaw will be a big game for us … it’ll show what we’re made up,” said D. Hasz. “Getting the interception last year in the state game was a small part in the big picture but it was fun.”

Bixby’s defense also harassed Choctaw’s offense in the state championship last season, recording 10 sacks for 60 yards in losses. With over a minute left and Choctaw on Bixby’s 49-yard line, Wasel was sacked for back-to-back losses of five and three yards by linebacker Jack Puckett.

On fourth-and-six in the waning seconds at Bixby’s 45, Wasel was sacked for a 10-yard loss by Puckett and Jersey Robb, turning the ball over to Bixby with four seconds left.

Presley led the Spartans offensively in the title game with 206 yards rushing, including a 28-yard TD run, Robb scored from two yards out in the first quarter while Nolan’s 29-yard field goal proved to be the deciding points.

NEXT GAME – Bixby visits second-ranked Choctaw for a crucial District 2 feature game Friday (Oct. 8) with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at the Yellowjackets’ Bill Jensen Stadium.

Choctaw, led by fifth-year head coach Jake Corbin, improved to 4-1 overall and to 2-0 in district play after a 36-0 victory at Ponca City (1-4, 0-2) last Friday night.

In non-district play this season, Choctaw defeated Beacon Hill Homeschool of Richmond, Virginia (66-0), routed Springdale, Arkansas (63-6) and lost at Dallas (Texas) Jesuit (36-29) before opening district play with a 29-20 home win over Booker T. Washington.

NOTABLES – Bixby, ranked No. 22 nationally by MaxPreps, extended its winning streak to 41 games in a row. … Bixby’s senior running back/defensive end Zack Blankenship was named Homecoming King during pregame ceremonies. … Bixby’s 6-4 senior receiver/linebacker Preston Solomon played in only two early games last year before being sidelined with an injury. The athletic, speedy Solomon has steadily improved this season, producing for BHS on both sides of the ball.  “It was difficult last year. I played two games and got injured. I’m excited to be able to play this season. I feel like I’m better this season. Early last season I dropped some passes, and my route running wasn’t as good,” said Solomon, who had four tackles and a pass reception for 46 yards against Putnam West. “I’ve been in the weight room and gained 15 to 20 pounds since I was expecting to play defense at outside linebacker. We’re really looking forward to the Choctaw game. It’ll probably be the game of the week.” This season, Solomon has six pass receptions for 195 yards and one TD, 17 tackles and four tackles for loss. … Bixby’s defense has recorded 21.5 sacks through five games this season. Senior Miles Hill leads with 4.5 sacks while J. Puckett has four and Stacy three. … For the second straight week, Bixby didn’t punt in the game. Putnam West punted seven times for a 31.0-yard average. …

DEFENSIVE LEADERS -With the starters sitting the second half, numerous Spartans recorded tackles against Putnam West. Senior linebacker Jack Puckett made the most of his time, finishing with eight tackles (five unassisted) and one tackle for loss.

Junior linebacker Mack Cairl finished with six tackles, three unassisted, while Conner Stacy, Beau Bertelli and Hank Puckett each were credited with four tackles.

ON THE AIR – Bixby’s game at Choctaw can be heard over The Sports Animal, 97.1 FM with Shawn Tiemann providing play-by-play commentary. The pre-game show starts at 6:30 p.m.

Tiemann also hosts the weekly Loren Montgomery Coaches’ Show at 6 p.m. Tuesdays at Doc’s Country Mart. The coaches’ show is also aired over 97.1 FM. Bixby Coaches Replay Show can be seen on Cox Channel 3 at 8 p.m. on Wednesdays.

DISTRICT TWO – In other District 2 results from last Friday Bartlesville (1-4, 0-2) was routed 66-0 at BTW (4-1, 1-1) and Sand Springs (5-0, 2-0) captured a 48-34 victory at Muskogee (1-5, 1-1).

In other district games on Oct. 8 Booker T. Washington visits Sand Springs, Muskogee travels to Bartlesville and Ponca City journeys to Putnam City West.

NON-DISTRICT FOES – Del City romped 30-7 at Stillwater (2-3, 1-1) last Thursday while Jenks (3-1, 1-0) rolled to a 31-14 win at Broken Arrow last Friday. Mansfield (Texas) Timberview (2-3) was idle.