By Ron Holt
Bixby had its share of first game mistakes Friday night in the season-opening showdown against Union. So did UHS.
But the Spartans, top-ranked in Class 6AII, overcame the miscues with a dazzling performance by speedy junior running back Braylin Presley, converting clutch plays on both sides of the ball and an opportunistic defensive effort to stun Class 6AI’s fourth-ranked Union, 34-0, at BHS’s Lee Snider Stadium.
Presley, a stout 5-9, 149-pounder, scored four touchdowns – rushing 16 times for 185 yards and two TDs while catching seven passes for 67 yards and two scores – as Bixby recorded its first win over UHS since 1979.
On the first play of the Spartans first possession Presley impressively sprinted 70 yards to the UHS five, catching a five-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Mason Williams for Bixby’s first score on the ensuing play.
On the first play of the Spartans’ first possession in the third quarter, Presley erupted down Bixby’s sideline for a 66-yard TD to break the game open.
“He’s electric,” Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery said of Presley. “I think he’s a little stronger and a little faster … he’s a really good back. He’s a great worker in the weight room, he’s stronger than you think.”
On its third possession of the game, Bixby capitalized on a clutch 23-yard pass from Williams to sophomore Luke Hasz on a fourth-and-nine play to set up a seven-yard Williams-to-Presley TD pass for a 13-0 Spartan lead with 1:24 showing in the first quarter.
Bixby’s defense took center stage in the scoreless second quarter as the Spartans denied two Union drives when junior linebacker Beau Bertelli recovered a fumble by UHS quarterback Rovaughn Banks on the visitors’ first possession of the period and Jakeb Snyder intercepted a deflected Union pass by backup quarterback Grayson Tempest on its second offensive series in the period.
Presley’s 66-yard TD jaunt opening the third quarter gave Bixby a 20-0 lead. The Spartans sealed the win following a one-yard run by Presley and a three-yard TD romp by Zach Blankenship in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t exactly glamorous,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got to get better at pass protection, they dominated us there. I don’t think it was any special blitzes … we just didn’t pick it up. We didn’t execute very well … it was frustrating to get behind the chains as much as we did.
“But, to come out and beat a Union team when you have so many blunders is good. I think we have a good football team … we’ve just got to figure things out and clean up some things. Defensively, it was good to get a shutout. They had a couple of good guys in their backfield in the Banks kid and the running back (A. J. Green) who is going to Arkansas,” he noted.
Williams was 18-for-25 passing for 171 yards and two touchdowns, but the Spartan senior signal-caller was under constant pressure and sacked numerous times by Union’s defensive front.
“I’m pretty sore right now,” Williams admitted. “There’s definitely a lot we can improve on … I’m not satisfied but we came out with the win and that was the main thing.
“It’s great to get to play a game, it came a lot faster than I thought it was going to but I’m glad to get started,” Williams said of the uncertainty surrounding the season.
“We’ve got to get better. Jenks is always a good game … I’m excited about the game,” Williams noted of the upcoming battle with the Trojans.
NEXT GAME – Bixby remains home to entertain long-time rival and defending Class 6AI state runner-up Jenks on Friday, Sept. 4, at Lee Snider Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Jenks, which lost 14-6 to Owasso in the 2019 championship game, opened the 2020 season at home last Friday with an impressive 31-15 win over Springdale (Arkansas) Har-Ber.
The Trojans’ defense forced six turnovers while JHS senior quarterback Stephen Kittleman passed for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Grant Lohr rushed for 93 yards and one score on eight carries, according to reports.
“They have a veteran team and they’re well coached,” Montgomery said of the Trojans. “We’ll need to be better next week.”
Bixby turned in one of its most impressive performances in the 2019 season in a 57-7 road conquest of Jenks, rolling to a 43-0 halftime lead in recording the second win over JHS in the past three seasons.
Williams paced the Spartans in the game by completing 16-of-19 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns; Braylin Presley ran for 118 yards on 10 carries and scored four TDs while Brennan Presley caught four passes for 144 yards and two scores. Senior Luke Creeger also caught two TD passes.
Jenks is led this season by Kittleman and senior offensive lineman Logan Nobles, an Oklahoma State commitment. Other Trojan veterans include tight end-linebacker Waylon Adams, linebacker Tyson Ward and defensive back-receiver Jayden Patrick.
Kittleman completed 22-of-37 passes for 255 yards before leaving with an injury last year against Bixby. The Trojans were limited to 95 rushing yards
BHS OPPONENTS SCORES – Stillwater was idle while Sand Springs defeated Sapulpa 21-15 last Friday, Oklahoma City McGuinness topped Muskogee 20-13, and Booker T. Washington blanked Southmoore 28-0. On Friday, Sept. 4, Stillwater hosts Edmond Santa Fe, Sand Springs hosts Bishop Kelley, Muskogee visits Bentonville (Arkansas) West, Washington hosts Del City, Union visits Broken Arrow, Bartlesville hosts Claremore; Putnam City West hosts Guthrie and Ponca City hosts Enid.
NOTABLES – Bixby extended its winning streak to 26 straight games. … BHS unveiled its impressive, large video board at Spartan Stadium in the season opener … The Spartans totaled 376 yards of total offense while limiting Union to 145 total yards. UHS was held to 65 rushing yards. Bixby averaged 6.2 yards per offensive play while Union averaged 2.6 yards per offensive play. … Eight different Spartans caught passes from Williams. … Bixby’s defensive leaders were senior defensive back Tanner Doyle, linebacker Jack Puckett, defensive back Dylan Hasz, linebacker Beau Bertelli and linebacker Nic Wedel, among others. … Bixby featured new faces in the kicking game in deep snapper, holder and kicker. Junior Connor Nolan converted four extra-point kicks while punting five times for a 30.8-yard average per punt.