Championship Highlights Bixby’s Inaugural Class 6A-I Season

By Ron Holt

After dominating Class 6A-II football in the state since 2014, Bixby High’s Spartans moved up to Class 6A-I this past season.

In Class 6A-II, Bixby won seven of eight state championships including five in a row. After losing the first game of 2018, the Spartans reeled off a state record 58-game winning streak, defeating several 6A-I teams during the streak.

The question on the mind of many entering the 2022 season centered around Bixby’s chances of continued success while being the smallest of 16 schools in the state’s largest classification.

The Spartans made their intentions known in the season-opening 49-14 Battle of the Burbs victory over Owasso in front of a large crowd at the University of Tulsa’s Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium before emphatically ending the season with a dominating 69-6 victory over Owasso in the 6A-I state championship witnessed by another large crowd at University of Central Oklahoma’s Chad Richison Stadium in Edmond on December 2.

“I did feel like we would compete …we had been playing some 6A-I teams the last few years and had been beating them. We didn’t play a whole schedule of those teams but by us being able to beat some of those teams I felt our kids would have the confidence to compete,” said 13th-year Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery, the architect of Bixby’s sustained success.

“We were in a lot better position than we were in 2010 when we moved up to 6A when 6A was one class even though we were still a playoff team. I thought we’d have a chance. After the Battle of the Burbs when our team was able to pull away in the second half, I think that gave our kids confidence and gave us an idea of how we were going to be able to move the ball,” Montgomery said.

“Going into the year we had lost offensive weapons and so many good guys on defense, including losing our entire front seven. We didn’t know what it was going to look like.”

The Spartans steadily progressed in all three phases in rolling through the non-district and Class 6A-I-District 1 competition. In the process, Bixby played in front of numerous large crowds.

“We played in front of some great crowds this year,” Coach Montgomery said. “There was the Battle of the Burbs, then our first home game against Sand Springs was almost capacity. The Broken Arrow game (in Bixby) was a good environment, and I don’t know if we’ve had a better environment than our Week 10 game here against Jenks … it was electric, plus it was in front of a national audience on ESPN.

“The semifinal game against Jenks at Broken Arrow was a great environment to play in … the newspaper said around 12,000 people. And the state championship game at UCO was pretty well attended and another great environment. Our kids were fortunate to play in a lot better environments than most high school players,” he added.

Offensively, the Spartans opened the season with two quarterbacks with varsity experience – senior Connor Kirby and move-in senior Austin Havens. Kirby received the most snaps especially late in the season but Havens proved to be a talented back-up.

“Going into the year both quarterbacks had shown they had earned the right to be on the field. They had different skill sets,” Montgomery said. “Coach (Tyler) Schneider was creative to give each guys things that were in their skill sets. They both made huge strides. Kirby ended up getting more reps … his progression from Week 0 to Week 13 was phenomenal with only one interception.”

Kirby, a 6-2, 190-pounder, was a dual threat. He passed for 1,925 yards, completing .734 percent of his passes and tossing 30 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 1,023 yards on 137 carries and scored 16 TDs. Havens ended with 1,288 yards passing and 17 TDs.

Kirby was Bixby’s rushing leader while senior running back Jersey Robb, who battled through injuries to finish with 639 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.

The Spartans had several contributors in the receiving department. Senior Cale Fugate had 36 pass receptions for 608 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior tight end Luke Hasz, an Under Armour All-American, caught 38 passes for 11 TDs. Junior newcomer Kordell Gouldsby had 53 catches for six touchdowns and senior Jakeb Snyder ended with 53 grabs for 549 yards and six TDs.

Bixby effectively mixed in returnees with players with limited varsity experience in the offensive line. Their positive progression sparked the season’s success.

“We had four guys who were first-year starters and I thought they did extremely well,” coach Montgomery noted. “A guy who stands out to me was Jacob Lail. He was a red team guy in eighth grade and ninth grade, he was a junior varsity guy as a sophomore and junior.

“Then he started every game this year and in one game he played four different positions. He’s been the picture of consistency over his career here. He played the best this year, I’m so proud of him. Brody Duffel was in his second year to start and he played well.

“Evan McClure stepped up and played well as did Brenden Burns at center. Dez Traylor sprained his ankle about halfway through the season and we moved Payton Hawkins, a junior, to right tackle.  He’s really good and physical.

“The thing I noticed is that in 6AII a lot of teams have one, two, maybe three good linemen and maybe a skill guy or two who can take it to the house. It seemed every 6A-I team we played had three or four good linemen and several skills guys with the semifinal type teams having five really good linemen … it’s more depth as it should be.”

Bixby’s offense dominated, averaging 61.8 points per game, which was third best nationally according to MaxPreps. The Spartans scored 80 points once, more than 70 points three times and more than 60 points five times.

In the preseason, Spartan coaches were excited about the potential in the defensive front despite graduation losses. BHS’s defense recorded another solid, clutch performance in 2022.

“I thought they played phenomenally,” coach Montgomery said of the defensive line. “Kason Hatley, Brandon Hobbs and Justin Kirk are all weight room guys, attention-to-detail guys and are guys who play hard. I was very pleased with their play and progression this season.

“All three of those guys, along with Payton Hawkins will be back. I don’t know if we’ll have the depth that we had this year. We’ve got some good players returning, we’ll se how it all comes together next year.

“In the secondary all our top five guys are gone … that’s something that will give us a little heartburn in the offseason,” Montgomery said. “Those guys were good playmakers all season long. We’ve got some good young guys who’ve gotten some reps.”

Hank Puckett, a 5-11, 190-pound junior linebacker, led the hard-hitting Bixby defense with 128 total tackles and 15 tackles for loss. He also recorded five sacks. Robb, a senior linebacker, was credited with 65 total tackles and eight tackles for loss while senior defensive back Cale Fugate ended with 66 total stops and had five pass interceptions with two returned for touchdowns.

Bixby’s defense had three shutouts and recorded 23 sacks. In addition, Spartan defenders intercepted 22 passes for 405 yards in returns including returning seven thefts for touchdowns.

After the second half rally sparked the season opening win over Owasso, the Spartans were dominant until the regular season finale at home against Jenks. The Spartans misfired on a couple of opportunities early and late in seeing the 58-game winning streak end in a 38-35 loss.

Despite the bitter loss BHS finished as district champion and avenged the loss in the state semifinals, defeating the Trojans 28-14 at Broken Arrow in advancing to the state championship game.

Since the Spartans received a first round bye in the enlarged 2022 playoffs, the loss lingered longer than normal.

“That was a miserable two weeks to 15 days but it was probably healthy for our program even though you never want it,” coach Montgomery said. “Ultimately the goal was to grow and get better. We had a good group of kids who were hard workers.

“Somewhere along the way – 2018 or 2019 – we had a group of leaders that really set the tone for how you practice and that’s kind of been the standard,” he said. “Brennan Presley, Brody Sartin, Luke Creeger and Trevon Holt all were really good practice guys who set examples. That’s a big deal. There aren’t better leaders than Jack Puckett and Zack Blankenship we had last year.

”It’s our coaches’ job when we see someone slacking off to address it. We work really hard in the offseason, counseling guys on what it looks like to lead not only out there on the field but in the locker room. It’s not always perfect but we work at it.”

NOTEBOOK – Bixby appeared on national television twice in 2022. The Spartans’ football program was featured on NBC’s Today Show discussing its lengthy winning record while the Jenks at Bixby regular season finale was aired on ESPN2. … In a road district win at Enid earlier in the season, the Spartans led 21-0 before their offense had taken a snap. Jakeb Snyder returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown; freshman Cord Nord returned a blocked punt for a TD and Tyson Williams returned a punt for a TD. On Bixby’s first offensive play, quarterback Connor Kirby threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Cale Fugate. … Spartans honored during the end of season football banquet were Dylan Hasz, Lee Snider Award, Connor Kirby, Tom Boone Award, and Cale Fugate, Kevin Riddle Award. …  Fourth-year Bixby defensive line Coach Tim Holt retired from coaching after the 2022 season. He plans to remain as a teacher for another year. “He was awesome and such a hard worker. He was one of those older coaches who were used to dragging pipes around to water the field or guys who had to paint the field,” Montgomery said. “He was a great addition.”  Taking Holt’s position is second-year BHS assistant coach Kaden Jackson, who assisted Holt in 2022.

ALL-STATE – Two Bixby Spartans were named to the 2023 Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State Football Team. Named to the All-State East offensive team was 6-4 tight end Luke Hasz while 6-0 safety Cale Fugate was named to the All-State East defensive team.

In addition, senior quarterback Connor Kirby was named to the OCA’s East All-Star by class offensive unit.

Three Spartans were named to the Tulsa World’s All-State Team – tight end Luke Hasz was first team offense, defensive back Cale Fugate first team defense and Connor Kirby first team all-purpose athlete.

Bixby senior offensive lineman Jacob Lail was named second team offense while junior linebacker Hank Puckett was named second team defense. Spartans named honorable mention by the Tulsa World were linemen Kason Hatley, Brandon Hobbs and Evan McClure, linebacker Jersey Robb, defensive backs Dylan Hasz, Jakeb Snyder and Tyson Williams and kicker-punter Levi Hoffman.

Selected to the Daily Oklahoman’s All-State team were tight end Luke Hasz, first team offense; defensive back Cale Fugate, first team defense and defensive back Dylan Hasz, second team defense. Honorable mention selections were quarterback Connor Kirby, wide receiver Jakeb Snyder and defensive back Tyson Williams.

ALL-DISTRICT – Bixby dominated selections to the Class 6A 1-Division 1 All-District team. Cale Fugate was the district’s Defensive Player of the Year; Luke Hasz was Tight End of the Year, Tyson Williams was Defensive Back of the Year, and Connor Kirby was Quarterback of the Year.

Spartans named first team all-district were quarterback Austin Havens, wide receivers Jakeb Snyder and Christian Kaiser; offensive linemen Brendon Burns, Dez Traylor and Jacob Lail; defensive lineman Michael Incremona; linebacker Jersey Robb; defensive backs Dylan Hasz and Joshua Newkirk, and special teamers Levi Hoffman and Noah Shaw.

Spartans named honorable mention were running backs Karsen Rampey and Garrett Hoskins, tight end Carter Breneman, offensive lineman Lucas Tenison, defensive linemen Brock Shepler, Chase Wilson and Jaydyn Bartels, linebacker Mack Cairl, defensive backs Braysen Trusty and Mason Eberle and special teamer Casey Copenhaver.

ACADEMIC CHAMPS – Bixby earned an additional title in 2022 as the Spartans were named Academic State Champions. “That’s the first time in my tenure that we won the academic award,” Montgomery said.

“I’ve got to give Coach Holt a lot of credit. He’s our academic team coach … he’s the guy who pulls all the grades and holds those guys accountable either making them go to tutoring or other things. Anyone who dropped below a ‘C’ we counseled those guys.”

2022 SCOREBOARD (12-1, 6-1) – W, Owasso (49-14, at TU); W, at Springdale Har-Ber (59-0); W, vs. Sand Springs (67-3); W, at Norman North (63-7); W, vs. Southmoore (80-0); W, at Enid (77-14); W, vs. Broken Arrow (77-17); W, at Westmoore (73-6); W, at Moore (64-7); L, vs. Jenks (38-35); W, Enid (63-0, 6A-I quarterfinal); W, Jenks (28-14, 6A-1 state semifinal at Broken Arrow); W, Owasso (69-6, 6A-1 state championship, UCO).

2023-02-23T18:43:42+00:00January 22nd, 2023|

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


Go to Top