By Ron Holt
Capitalizing on solid performances in all three phases, unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Bixby settled the issue early in rolling past No. 7 Del City, 63-27, in a Class 6AII state quarterfinal game last Friday night at Lee Snider Stadium.
The Spartans, 9-0, and riding a 34-game winning streak, advance to a state semifinal meeting against a familiar foe – Midwest City – Saturday at 7 p.m. at Jenks’ Allan Trimble Stadium. Midwest City knocked off Booker T. Washington, 26-7, in its quarterfinal game to punch its semifinal ticket.
In the other Class 6AII state semifinal, second-ranked Stillwater meets Choctaw at 1 p.m. Saturday at Owasso High’s stadium. Stillwater beat Sand Springs (49-17) and Choctaw topped Putnam City North (20-7) in quarterfinal games last Friday.
The two semifinal winners play for the Class 6AII state championship on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium in Edmond.
After winning the coin toss, Bixby opted to go on defense first. The defense responded by stopping athletic Del City on a pair of three-and-outs – followed by a pair of errant punts – and the offense rewarded the defensive effort with quick-striking touchdowns.
“I was proud of the way we executed on both sides of the ball and with the special teams, we made some good plays. We pinned them deep a couple of times,” Bixby’s 11th-year head coach Loren Montgomery said. “The defense came out and played at high level in the first half … in the second half we let our guard down a little.
“We had several of our younger guys come in and play really well, too. I was proud of them … the name of the game in the playoffs is to survive and advance,” he added.
Junior running back Braylin Presley, who rushed for 111 yards on 17 carries, scored on a 19-yard burst with 9:47 left in the first quarter and took a short pass from senior quarterback Mason Williams 43 yards for a touchdown with 8:22 showing in the first period. Bixby quickly led 13-0 after Del City’s David Stone blocked the extra point attempt following the second TD.
Bixby’s third offensive drive opened with a 47-yard pass from Williams to junior Preston Solomon, who made a nifty over the shoulder catch before being tackled at the Eagles’ five-yard line. Solomon has returned after missing the majority of the season with an injury.
“I thought Preston made a couple of really good catches,” Coach Montgomery said. “He adjusted to the ball well.”
Following Solomon’s catch, a penalty and errant snap moved Bixby back to the 17-yard line where Williams, back to pass on fourth down, spotted an opening and raced to the end zone. Jersey Robb ran for the two-point conversion giving the hosts a 21-0 lead with 5:57 showing in the first period.
Facing third-and-13 in the second quarter, Bixby’s Williams tossed a screen pass to Beau Bertelli, who followed efficient blocking for a 24-yard touchdown and 28-0 Spartan lead. A 36-yard run by Presley highlighted the drive.
Spartan senior defensive back Devonta Owens made a statement later in the period, intercepting a pass from Del City’s Ja’Kheo Mitchell. On the Eagles’ next possession, Owens intercepted Mitchell again, completing the pick six as he raced untouched 33 yards for a TD and 35-0 Bixby lead with 1:31 left until halftime.
“That moment I couldn’t hear anything. I concentrated on catching the ball and all I saw was green grass. I didn’t hear anything until I got to the sidelines,” Owens, a 6-0, 161-pounder, said of his interception return for a score. “I was looking for them to run a hitch but then I saw that the ball was going to go over the receiver, so I just tried to play the ball.
“We chose to defer at the start of the game because we have confidence in our defense getting some stops. It’s really big for us to have everybody making plays.
“The thing about our team is that we don’t underestimate any team. We’ll have fun tonight, watch film tomorrow and then lock in for our next game,” added Owens, who is tied with teammate Dylan Hasz with three pass interceptions each.
Getting two interceptions during his last home game was pleasing for Owens, who missed the majority of last season with an injury.
“I missed almost all of last year. I feel like the injury I went through put me in the position I’m in today. I’m a stronger player and I feel like I’m faster,” Owens added.
Following Owens’ TD return, Bixby’s Isaac Gibson recovered the ensuing pooch kickoff – which wasn’t covered by the Eagles – at Del City’s 29-yard line. A 16-yard scramble by Williams moved the ball to the three where Presley easily scored for a 42-0 lead 31 seconds before intermission.
“I’m very happy with how we started the game. We were coming off the ball and we crushed their hopes by trying to get up on them early. I feel great about the way the game went,” Bixby senior offensive lineman Caleb Townsend said. “It’s very satisfying to win like this on our last game here … I’m very satisfied with this game.”
Bixby opened the second half in similar fashion, scoring on its first possession as Presley took a pitch and raced 19 yards for a TD and 49-0 lead at the 10:09 mark of the third quarter.
Del City, which ends the season 4-6, came to life when senior Jahkobie Smith took over at quarterback following an injury to Mitchell. He tossed a 13-yard TD pass to Oklahoma State commit Donovan Stephens and ran five yards for a score narrowing the deficit to 49-14 with 1:29 left in the third quarter.
Bixby quickly answered when D. Hasz returned the kickoff 36 yards to the Del City 46 and on the first play junior Zach Blankenship bolted 46 yards for the TD. Connor Nolan kicked the conversion extending the Spartans lead to 56-14.
Smith scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter for a 56-20 game before Blankenship spurted up the middle for a 37-yard touchdown and 63-20 Spartan lead before the Eagles’ talented Sherrod Davis caught a 43-yard TD pass from sophomore Dkalen Godwin to end the scoring.
Williams, playing his final home game, was 10-of-20 passing for 180 yards and two TDs and rushed five times for 49 yards and a TD. Blankenship was the leading rusher with 117 yards on seven carries. Presley topped Bixby receivers with five catches for 76 yards.
Bixby, which averaged 8.3 yards on 61 plays, totaled 504 offensive yards while Del City ended with 456 total yards. The Spartans ended with 313 rushing yards. Also joining in the ground effort were Aidan Hill (5 carries, 22 yards) and Mason Mittasch (4 carries, 14 yards). Seven Spartans caught passes.
Del City’s LJ Brown topped the Eagles’ rushing attack with 94 yards on 11 carries while Davis caught nine passes for 150 yards and one score.
SPARTAN “D” – Against Del City, Spartan senior linebacker Nick Wedel finished with 10 tackles, six unassisted, and on tackle for a loss. Defensive back Dylan Hasz had nine tackles and DB Jakeb Snyder had seven tackles, six solos. Defensive back Devonta Owens had six tackles and two pass thefts while senior lineman Macqeilen Ware had five tackles – two for loss.
MWC SCOREBOARD – Midwest City, 8-2 and 4-1 in District 1 play, defeated Westmoore (27-20), lost at Carl Albert (41-26), won at Noble (40-7), defeated Lawton (34-9) at home, edged Del City (19-10) at home, won at Deer Creek (53-0), won at Putnam North (35-14), lost at home to Stillwater (31-10) and defeated Muskogee (39-0) in play-in game prior to the Washington quarterfinal.
“They’ve been tough … I think they are better. We’ve played them in the last couple of years and they are always well coached,” coach Montgomery said. “Coach (Darrell) Hall does a good job. I think the quarterback has gotten better and defensively they have a new look.”
In the win over Washington, Bomber sophomore quarterback Deangelo Irvin Jr. passed for 198 yards and three TDs while running for another score. Makale Smith, a 6-2, senior receiver, caught two touchdown passes while Artez Young caught one TD pass.
On the season, Irvin has 1,822 yards passing and 15 TDs while rushing for 446 yards and one score. Kristawn Friday has 608 rushing yards and one TD. Defensively, MWC is led by linebacker Arthur Broiles and Quincy Kornegay with 69 total tackles each. Friday has 68 total tackles and two interceptions.
SERIES NOTABLES – Bixby and Midwest City have battled in state playoff games in recent years. Last season, Bixby used a 21-point first quarter outburst in throttling the Bombers, 42-10, in a state quarterfinal game at home.
In that loss, Bomber quarterback Irvin was 18-of-28 passing for 176 yards and one TD while being intercepted four times. Smith had four catches for 68 yards and intercepted one pass on defense.
In 2018, Bixby edged the Bombers, 24-21, in a state semifinal game at Jenks’ Allan Trimble Stadium. The Spartans scored with 6:44 left in the final quarter to capture the win. In 2017, Bixby held off the Bombers, 14-12, in a state semifinal game at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.
“Two years ago, we had a good game with them, and we had a good game with them last year,” Bixby’s Townsend noted of Midwest City. “Everyone’s going to bring their best against us … but we practice hard every single week to be ready.”