By Ron Holt
TULSA – A fast start and contributions from numerous players in all three phases of the game sparked Bixby’s Spartans to a 42-16 romp past No. 3 Owasso in the second QuikTrip-sponsored Battle of the ‘Burbs last Thursday night at the University of Tulsa’s Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium.
The Spartans, the preseason No. 1 ranked team in Class 6A-I, amassed 427 total offensive yards behind three quarterbacks and used a 21-point first quarter outburst as the springboard for its third straight victory over the Rams in the past two seasons. Bixby led 42-0 before Owasso scored its 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Both teams managed temperatures – which reached triple digit heat indexes in recent weeks – during preseason practices and in the season opener.
“We worked our tail off trying to deal with the heat,” 14th-year Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery said. “We knew it was going to be an issue, but we tried to be as strategic as we could. We said it would be a game of attrition with the heat and that’s kind of the way it turned out.”
Despite the heat challenges, Bixby played several starters both ways. The Spartans responded with several noteworthy performances.
There were outstanding individual efforts – senior Kordell Gouldsby’s 205 yards of total offense and senior linebacker Hank Puckett’s 19 total tackles, including 11 solo stops – pacing the Spartan offense and defense, respectively. But it was the contributions of several Spartans that was also a highlight.
“I was proud of the way we executed in the first half … we had some good things happen. And several of our playmakers, our skill players, did what you’re supposed to in big games,” Montgomery noted. “Hopefully this is something to build on … there is plenty to learn from that tape.
“We got a lot of snaps out of a lot of guys. We tried to manage it but in a big game if we have an opportunity to get them out there, we will.”
Receiving the opening kickoff, Bixby went on a methodical 79-yard scoring drive in nine plays topped off by a one-yard sneak by junior quarterback Cooper Parker with 8:43 left in the first quarter. The drive was highlighted by a 36-yard, tackle-breaking run by senior Jett Turner.
A personal foul penalty thwarted Owasso’s first drive of the game with the Rams punting the ball away to the Spartans at Bixby’s 26-yard line. On the first play, Gouldsby ran up the middle, broke a tackle near the Ram sideline and stiff-armed the last Ram defender to complete a dazzling 74-yard TD run for a 14-0 lead with 6:24 left in the opening stanza.
“The play Kordell scored on at the south end zone was a pretty good picture of the summer Kordell had … he was always in the weight room. He had a big stiff arm to finish that run off,” coach Montgomery said. “I’m proud of Kordell …he’s about 10 pounds heavier, he’s faster and is doing good things.”
Gouldsby finished with 174 yards rushing on six carries, averaging 29 yards a carry. He also caught two passes for 31 yards. In addition, he played numerous snaps in Bixby’s defensive secondary.
“I could tell when I showed up at Bixby that I was getting stronger, the culture in the weight room is great,” Gouldsby said afterward. “I just tried to push myself to the max … I tried to prepare myself in the summer.
“I just wanted to come out here with my guys and get the win. The biggest thing is that we have depth on this team, we have a lot of guys who can play multiple positions and play them well. We’ve got to show up next week in practice and not ride too high on this game,” Gouldsby added.
“We’ve got a lot to clean up going into our next game.”
The next time Bixby took possession the Spartans went on a 63-yard, 10-play drive that also ended in a one-yard run by Parker for a 21-0 lead at the 2:06 mark of the first quarter. The drive featured a 24-yard pass play from sophomore quarterback Carson Kirby to senior Sam McCormick, who tight-roped the sideline in making the grab. Kirby also contributed a 13-yard scramble on the following play.
“We prepared really good all summer and did pretty good but we’re not anywhere near where we want to be,” said Parker, who also contributed defensively for BHS. “The first half I don’t think we punted. The heat was tough, but we prepared for it all week. I like going both ways, it’s something you have work hard to do.”
Senior quarterback Clay Peters gave Bixby a 28-0 lead when he scampered 13 yards for a touchdown on the first drive of the second quarter.
A 62-yard TD sprint by Peters with 3:25 left in the third quarter increased the Spartan lead to 35-0 and Bixby made it 42-0 at the 11:55 mark of the fourth quarter when Kirby rifled a 20-yard TD pass which was hauled in by junior wide receiver Blake Hogshooter behind two Ram defenders.
Owasso made the game respectable scoring on a safety, a three-yard TD pass from quarterback Tyler Caviness to Cason Hodges and a one-yard run by Jayden Hall in the final stanza.
“I felt it was a good game, we started strong and put up a few scores in the first quarter,” said standout 6-5, 261-pound offensive tackle Brody Duffel. “I’m real excited about this team, we know what we can do. Playing three quarterbacks isn’t a big deal for us … we’ve just got to handle our assignments. I’m confident in all three.
“It was hot tonight. We were well hydrated, and we took every precaution in practice. We’ve got some things we’ve got to clean up this week in practice,” he added.
Bixby’s defense bent but didn’t break through three quarters. The Spartans limited the Rams to 235 total offensive yards.
“I was pumped for this game like no other being our first game of the season and playing at H.A. Chapman Stadium … I was ready to go,” said senior defensive lineman Justin Kirk, who was credited with seven tackles, three solos, and a sack.
“I prepared pretty hard for this season, I’m just way stronger than last year. The size and strength helps … as does experience.”
Montgomery added, “I was proud of those three defensive linemen who have been anchors the past three years. We rotated some guys in there who did good. The linebackers played really well.”
Puckett impressively started his senior season. Of the 19 total tackles, 11 were solo stops. He also was credited with two tackles for loss and a sack. Parker ended with nine tackles, senior Colton Kaiser had eight tackles and senior defensive lineman Kason Hatley had seven tackles. Bixby’s defense recorded five sacks.
NEXT GAME – Bixby opens the home schedule Friday (September 1) when Springdale (Arkansas) Har-Ber visits Lee Snider Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff. Bixby’s annual Military Appreciation Night activities will be held prior to kickoff.
Har-Ber is 0-1 on the season after the Wildcats fell to Little Rock Parkview, 52-21, in its opener at home last week. Har-Ber is led this season by head coach Brent Eckley, who replaced Chris Wood.
In the loss, Har-Ber was led offensively by quarterback Braden Sprague, a 5-11, 175-pound senior, and Evan Curry, a hard-nosed 5-11, 175-pound senior wide receiver.
Springdale was 1-10 last season including a 59-0 home field loss to Bixby in the second game of the 2022 season. The Spartans led 42-0 at halftime and finished with 450 total offensive yards.
NOTABLES – Bixby has won 62 of its last 63 games … The Spartans outscored Owasso 160-36 in the past three meetings over two seasons. That’s an average of 53.3 points a game. … Bixby’s Troy Nguyen, a 6-0 senior, was successful last Thursday night in his first season kicking for the Spartans, hitting on all six extra point attempts. … Kirby led Bixby in passing, completing 7-of-14 passes for 90 yards and one TD. Gouldsby was the rushing leader with 174 yards and a TD while Peters rushed for 91 yards on 14 carries. … Bixby’s kickoff team featured a pair of bone-jarring special team tackles by 6-1, 184-pound sophomore wide receiver-linebacker Trey McGlothlin. … Payton Chronister, a 6-1, 176-pound junior defensive lineman, recovered a Ram fumble. … Spartan captains for the Owasso game were Justin Kirk, Hank Puckett, Sam McCormick and Kordell Gouldsby. … The sweltering temperatures may have hampered attendance as the crowd was estimated at 15,000. … Bixby opponents and their season opening scores included: Sand Springs winning at Sapulpa (64-54), Enid fell at Muskogee (49-27), Broken Arrow lost at home to Bentonville, Arkansas (41-0), Union won at Westmoore (49-7), Moore won at Edmond Memorial (31-28) and Jenks lost at home to Edmond Santa Fe (27-26). This week: Norman North hosts Norman, Enid visits Ponca City, Broken Arrow goes to Union, Southmoore travels to Mustang, Yukon hosts Westmoore and Jenks visits Owasso.
Bixby 42, Owasso 16
BHS – Cooper Parker 1 run (Troy Nguyen kick), 8:43
BHS – Kordell Gouldsby 74 run (Nguyen kick), 6:24
BHS – Parker 1 run (Nguyen kick), 2:06
BHS – Clay Peters 13 run (Nguyen kick), 10:00
BHS – Peters 62 run (Nguyen kick), 3:25
BHS – Blake Hogshooter 20 pass from Carson Kirby (Nguyen kick), 11:55
OHS – Safety, punt snap went out of end zone
OHS – Cason Hodges 3 pass from Tyler Caviness (Noah Hill kick)
OHS – Jayden Hall 1 run (Hill kick)