By Ron Holt
EDMOND – Facing an historic opportunity, Bixby’s focused, disciplined, tenacious Spartans responded with another dominating championship game performance here last Friday night.
Featuring a balanced, opportunistic offensive attack and a defense which minimized the opponent’s strength early, Bixby coasted to a stunning 69-6 victory over Owasso to capture its first Class 6AI state championship in front of a large crowd at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Chad Richison Stadium.
Bixby (12-1) captured its eighth state championship in nine tries including its fifth state title in a row (2018-2022). The first seven championships came in Class 6AII.
For those wondering how the Spartans – the smallest school in Class 6AI – would fare during their first season in the state’s largest classification the question was emphatically answered.
“I thought the guys played really well. We didn’t turn the ball over and we executed really well. When we had opportunities. we capitalized … it doesn’t always work out that way,” said Bixby’s 13th-year head coach Loren Montgomery.
Bixby took the game’s opening possession 80 yards in six plays to take the early lead after a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Connor Kirby with 11:12 left in the first quarter. Levi Hoffman kicked the conversion.
Owasso (9-5) executed its quarterback-run offense to perfection on the following possession as gritty senior quarterback Mason Willingham ran 54 yards up the middle for a Ram touchdown with 9:04 showing. Owasso’s point-after kick by Chase Everett failed, leaving BHS holding a 7-6 lead.
On Bixby’s next possession, the Spartans converted two fourth down attempts during the 12-play, 57-yard drive which ended on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Kirby to senior Jakeb Snyder. Hoffman’s kick gave BHS a 14-6 lead at the 5:21 mark of the first stanza.
Owasso was called for roughing the kicker on Bixby’s extra point try and was penalized 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff. Starting in Ram territory, Hoffman perfectly executed the onside kick, booting a line drive that was recovered by senior Spartan Dylan Hasz at the OHS 29-yard line.
“The main goal was to hit the ball hard and hope someone catches it,” a smiling Hoffman said of the onside kick success. “It was so exciting to see a plan come together. When I saw Dylan catch it, I was really excited … all the hard work paid off.
“This feels great. Everyone dreams of winning a state championship in their last game,” he added.
BHS capitalized on the opportunity as Kirby connected with senior tight end Luke Hasz with a nine-yard TD pass to complete the five-play, 29-yard drive and give the Spartans a 21-6 lead and momentum with 3:40 left in the opening frame.
Early in the second quarter, Bixby continued applying scoreboard pressure as Kirby fired a strike to D. Hasz, who snared the slant in stride and out-ran the nearest Ram for a 65-yard TD at the 9:57 mark of the second quarter. Hoffman kicked the conversion for a 28-6 lead.
Bixby’s next two possessions resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Kirby to end a 13-play, 55-yard drive and a 29-yard scoring pass play from Kirby to senior Cale Fugate boosting the Spartan lead to 42-6 with 32 seconds left before halftime.
On Bixby’s first possession of the third quarter, the Spartans resorted to trickery. Facing a punting situation, Bixby sophomore Cooper Parker fielded the snap and, instead of punting, coolly fired a pass to freshman Cord Nolan over the middle for a 49-yard TD. Nolan dragged about three enemy defenders into the end zone. The conversion kick was blocked, leaving BHS holding a 48-6 lead.
“We worked on that play all the time in practice, that’s actually the first time we’ve run it in a game,” said Nolan, a talented freshman. “We just executed. I knew it was going to happen. I was just making sure I got into the end zone for my team.
“It means a lot. What we’ve got going on over here is huge … you don’t see many teams win four in a row. My brother (Connor, a Spartan kicker) played the last three years and won three titles in a row. I’m just keeping it going.”
Coach Montgomery added, “For us to be able to jump out to a big lead early was big … being able to score on the first drive was big and then when they got the penalty, we were able to get the onside kick. That was big too.”
With 2:08 left in the third quarter, Bixby’s lead increased to 55-6 after a two-yard touchdown run by senior Jersey Robb and a point-after kick by Hoffman.
“I felt good the whole game,” said Robb, a senior running back-linebacker who battled injury problems this season. “We put it on these dudes, it’s great to go out that way. It means a lot to everyone since a lot of people said our 6AII championships weren’t real. But we just showed that we do what we do no matter who we’re playing.”
Robb rushed five times for 25 yards and a TD against Owasso. He also led the Spartan defense in tackles with 12 total tackles.
Senior quarterback Austin Havens, who moved to Bixby from Owasso this season, wrapped up the scoring onslaught as he tossed a 30-yard touchdown to L. Hasz and hit senior Christian Kaiser with a 24-yard TD pass play. Hoffman and Casey Copenhaver kicked the conversions, respectively.
- Hasz ended his Bixby career impressively, catching three passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns while also turning in another physical blocking effort.
Bixby’s offense was crisp throughout while finishing with 524 yards of total offense, including 340 passing yards. The Spartans played turnover-free football while averaging 7.7 yards per play. Bixby, six-of-nine on fourth down conversion attempts, didn’t punt in the game.
“I never imagined a game like this, I thought it would be a close game with the way Owasso was playing right now but we just came out and did what we needed to do to get the job done,” said 6-4, 255-pound junior right guard Evan McClure.
“We took advantage of adversity. and we just took over … that’s what we do and that’s how we win. This is my first year starting in the line. It’s been awesome working with some of these seniors and being able to get the job done and get this gold ball.”
The 6-2, 185-pound Kirby had a brilliant final performance in a Spartan uniform. He was 19-of-28 passing for 225 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing 17 times for 90 yards and two scores. “This maybe was his best game, coach Montgomery said of Kirby.
“They are honestly a completely different team from the last time we played them. They found their identity as they went on. They’re a great team but we just went out and executed. It feels awesome, it feels great,” Kirby said while visiting with the media afterward.
“We never envisioned a game like this. We’ve worked so hard for this, everyone has, and it feels good to bring it on home.”
Havens was four-for-four passing for 66 yards and two TDs while talented junior Kordell Gouldsby ran five times for 34 yards and caught eight passes for 37 yards. Gouldsby led the Spartans with 117 all-purpose yards.
Senior D. Hasz also made memories in his final game as a Spartan. He intercepted two passes with 14 yards in return, broke up a pass attempt, caught a touchdown pass and recovered an onside kick. Winning another title, however, meant the most to the personable Spartan strong safety.
“Honestly, the scoreboard says a lot more to me right now,” D. Hasz said. “We came out with an edge … not a lot of teams could beat us right now. I think the Jenks loss actually helped us. I don’t think we’d be here without it.
“Anytime you can make a team one dimensional it’s huge. They broke the one QB run but we came together and played some great defense,” he added.
Bixby’s defense featured significant contributions from numerous starters and reserves. Robb’s 12 total tackles led the way, followed by junior linebacker Jett Turner with seven total stops and one sack. Senior cornerback Tyson Williams was credited with six tackles including one for a six-yard loss.
Junior defensive tackle Kason Hatley and junior linebacker Hank Puckett each had six total tackles with Puckett also credited with a sack and a tackle for loss. Junior linebacker Sam McCormick, Fugate and junior defensive end Brandon Hobbs each had four total tackles.
“This has been an amazing experience, there’s nothing like it really,” said the 5-10, 165-pound Turner. “We tried to take the quarterback run game away along with the deep shots. The coaches have helped me get better with the little things every day. It’s very exciting. We’re looking forward to the next one.”
NOTABLES – Bixby has won 61 of its past 62 games. … Dylan Hasz’s two pass interceptions give him five for the season, tying him for the team lead with senior Cale Fugate. … In 10 of their 13 games this season the Spartans have scored 60 or more points. … This season, Spartan quarterback Connor Kirby has passed for 30 touchdowns while rushing for 16 TDs. … Owasso quarterback Mason Willingham carried the ball 30 times for 141 yards and four touchdowns, including the eventual game-winner, in a 50-47, six overtime semifinal win over Union. In the championship game, Willingham was limited to 81 rushing yards and one TD on 17 carries. … Bixby’s defense held Owasso to 175 total offensive yards while forcing the Rams to punt five times. The Spartan defenders also had three sacks for 13 yards in losses. … In the past two state championship appearances, Bixby has outscored the opponents, 132-20. … Owasso ended with 10 penalties for 100 yards while Bixby was flagged eight times for 85 yards. … Eight Spartans scored touchdowns in the game while three Spartans threw touchdown passes. … Bixby should improve this week on its No. 79 national ranking by High School Football America Top 100 and the No. 92 national ranking by MaxPreps.
Bixby 69, Owasso 6
(Class 6AI Championship)
BHS – Connor Kirby 1 run (Levi Hoffman kick), 11:12
OHS – Mason Willingham 54 run (Chase Everett kick failed), 9:04
BHS – Jakeb Snyder 11 pass from Kirby (Hoffman kick), 5:21
BHS – Luke Hasz 9 pass from Kirby (Hoffman kick), 3:40
BHS – Dylan Hasz 65 pass from Kirby (Hoffman kick), 9:57
BHS – Kirby 1 run (Hoffman kick), 3:45
BHS – Cale Fugate 29 pass from Kirby (Hoffman kick), :32
BHS – Cord Nolan 49 pas from Cooper Parker (Levi Hoffman kick blocked), 9:12
BHS – Jersey Robb 2 run (Hoffman kick), 2:08
BHS – L. Hasz 30 pass from Austin Havens (Hoffman kick), 11:23
BHS – Christian Kaiser 24 pass from Havens (Casey Copenhaver kick), 6:19