By Ron Holt
Bixby’s annual Fall Classic scrimmage last week at Lee Snider Field signaled the end of preseason high school practices.
The focus now turns to the regular season opener, which will be the Spartans first in Class 6AI after dominating Class 6AII since 2014. Bixby won seven Class 6AII championship trophies the past eight season, finishing as state runner-up in 2017.
Bixby, winners of a state record 49 straight games, is involved in a high-profile opener as the Spartans challenge Owasso at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (Aug. 25) in the QuikTrip-sponsored “Battle of the Burbs” at the University of Tulsa’s Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium.
While Bixby was capturing Class 6AII state titles in recent years, Owasso – which won its first state title in 1974 – captured Class 6AI state championships in 2017 and 2019, setting up this highly anticipated matchup.
Bixby rolled to the 2021 state title, defeating Putnam City North (78-7), Stillwater (48-6) and Deer Creek- Edmond (63-14). The Spartans averaged 63 points a game in the 2021 state playoffs while limiting opponents to an average of nine points.
Another productive summer of team camp, 7-on-7 competitions and daily strength training has benefited the Spartans, who return four starters on offense and four on defense from last year’s team.
Featuring several new faces, Bixby defeated Booker T. Washington 38-14 and downed Sapulpa 21-0 in half games at Bixby’s Fall Classic. The Spartans were led offensively by quarterbacks Conner Kirby and Owasso move-in Austin Havens, who shared time behind center in the two games.
Bixby relied on a four-yard touchdown run by Jersey Robb, a two-yard TD run by Jett Turner and Sam McCormick’s interception return for a score to lead the Hornets 21-0. An eight-yard TD pass from Kirby to Luke Hasz lifted BHS to a 28-7 halftime lead.
Casey Copenhaver, who was successful on four extra-point attempts, kicked a 36-yard field and Blake Hogshooter caught a 36-yard TD pass from Kirby for the Spartans’ final scores. The Hornets scored on two lengthy pass plays.
Against Sapulpa, Kordell Gouldsby raced 75 yards for a TD followed by touchdown pass plays of 40 and eight yards from Kirby to Hogshooter and Joshua Newkirk, respectively, as the Spartans led 21-0 at halftime. Christian Kaiser kicked three extra points.
“I feel like when we had our older, more experienced guys on the field it was clean for this time of the year,” Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery, who entering his 13th year at the Spartan helm, said afterward. “I thought both quarterbacks did some good things.
“When we put some of our younger guys in there, we had some good plays but also had some mistakes. That’s why we do these things … it’s a teaching moment for the coaches. We only have four returning starters on both sides of the ball, but we have a lot of guys who have played some,” he added.
Owasso, coached by veteran Bill Blankenship, went 8-3 last season. The Rams lost in the Class 6AI state quarterfinals to Broken Arrow 41-40 to end the season. Owasso also suffered regular season losses at Union and at home against Mustang.
The Rams wrapped up preseason scrimmaging last week at Union Tuttle Stadium with a 28-7 half-game win over Springdale (Arkansas) Har-Ber. Senior Mason Willingham quarterbacked the Rams while Luke Harris ran for three touchdowns.
“I haven’t seen a ton of them this year, but we’ll take a look at them tomorrow,” coach Montgomery said of the Rams. “It will be here quick. I like the direction we’re going but you never know until we get out there Thursday night. That’s a big environment for our guys to play in.”
In the Tulsa World’s preseason rankings, Bixby is ranked No. 3 in Class 6AI. Jenks, the defending champion, is the top pick with Union ranked second. Owasso is ranked No. 4 followed by Mustang, Broken Arrow, Edmond Santa Fe, Norman North, Norman and Moore.
NOTEBOOK – Bixby, ranked No. 73 nationally by MaxPreps, will be the visiting team Thursday night at TU. … Bixby hasn’t played Owasso since the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The Rams beat the Spartans 44- 20 in 2010 and by the same score in 2011. … Owasso senior receiver Cole Adams, who has committed to Alabama, is No. 1 on Oklahoma’s Top 25 players as selected by the Tulsa World. Bixby senior tight end Luke Hasz, a Arkansas commit, is ranked No. 3. Hasz’s twin brother, Dylan, a senior wide
receiver/defensive back is No. 9. … Bixby is returning to the state’s largest classification following eight seasons in Class 6AII after the OSSAA split Class 6A in 2014. The Spartans played their final Class 5A season in 2009, moving to Class 6A in 2010. … Coach Montgomery was named Spartan head football coach in 2010. In the past 12 seasons the Montgomery-led Spartans are 107-37 with a state playoff record of 23-3. … Following Thursday’s game, Bixby plays its first road game on Friday, September 2, at Springdale Har-Ber.
JV WINS – During the Bixby JV Fall Classic last Thursday, the young Spartans rallied for a 14-10 half- game win over Jenks. Trailing 10-0 at halftime, Bixby’s come back began on a TD run by Cody Crull and a late touchdown scamper by quarterback Clay Peters. Casey Copenhaver converted two point-after kicks.