By Ron Holt
Bixby’s offense did its job last Thursday night at Lee Snider Stadium, but it was the Spartan defense that set the tempo.
Limiting fourth-ranked Sand Springs to four yards of total offense in the first half and a final total of 81 offensive yards, unbeaten and top-ranked Bixby blitzed the improved Sandites, 58-14, in an important Class 6AII-District 2 battle.
Bixby improved to 7-0 overall and to 4-0 in district play. The Spartans also presented 12th-year head coach Loren Montgomery with his 100th victory at BHS. The Spartans celebrate Senior Night next Friday (Oct. 22) against district rival Muskogee.
It took Bixby a few series to get untracked offensively, but the Spartan defense applied continuous pressure to Sand Springs’ offense and especially senior quarterback Ty Pennington from the outset.
“The defense set the tempo and allowed us to be a little more aggressive, they really played physical,” said coach Montgomery. “I felt like the whole first half we put pressure on their quarterback.”
In the opening half, Sand Springs (5-2, 2-2) netted four yards on 32 plays to trail 30-0 at intermission. The Sandites had minus 23 rushing yards in the opening half. For the game, Sand Springs’ offense produced 81 yards total offense, averaging 1.4 yards on 57 plays. The visitors finished with minus 15 rushing yards.
“We just made sure we did our job. They came in here with a lot of hype and they’re a great team … it felt good to play well against them,” said senior defensive lineman Brady Neasby, who ended with two tackles both for loss. “We work hard to get better.”
Senior defensive line teammate Ky Roller agreed. “We come out and practice every day and work hard so that’s really what we expect,” Roller said. “We started pressing them and we got a lot of pressure on their QB tonight. It felt good to play well.”
A Sand Springs snap out of the end zone on a punt attempt resulted in a safety and early 2-0 Spartan lead with 10:43 showing in the first quarter. Senior Braylin Presley added a one-yard touchdown run at the 2:54 mark, giving Bixby a 9-0 lead after one stanza.
Spartan senior quarterback Christian Burke was on target in the second quarter, throwing TD passes of 27 yards to junior tight end Luke Hasz and 61 yards and 50 yards to Presley. Connor Nolan’s point-after conversion kicks after each TD gave BHS a 30-0 halftime cushion.
Burke and senior Preston Solomon connected on a 26-yard TD pass play early in the third quarter before Presley ran 47 yards for a TD and a 44-0 Bixby lead at the 6:58 mark of the third quarter.
Sand Springs, boosted by a personal foul flag on Bixby, avoided the shut out when Pennington hit senior wide receiver Keaton Campbell for an 11-yard TD pass play with 3:21 left in the third period. After Bixby quarterback Connor Kirby ran seven yards for a TD and the Sandite combination of Pennington to Campbell connected for a 45-yard TD pass, the third quarter ended with BHS holding a 51-14 lead.
Kirby’s hard-nosed, nine-yard TD run with 7:40 left in the fourth quarter ended the Spartans’ scoring. Burke had another productive outing, completing 24 of 28 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns. Presley broke loose rushing the ball in the second half and finished with 10 carries for 51 yards and two TDs while victimizing the Sandite defense by catching 11 passes for 151 yards and two scores.
“The box was pretty stacked,” Presley said of the Sandite defense. “But coming in you have to adjust and adapt and that’s what we did.”
Kirby led BHS in rushing with 55 yards on 11 carries while reserve quarterback Camden McCrary was 3 for 5 passing for 44 yards and rushed once for 27 yards. L. Hasz caught three passes for 56 yards and his second TD of the season. Ten Spartans caught passes in the game.
NEXT GAME – Bixby entertains Muskogee in a district contest Friday (Oct. 22) starting at 7 p.m. at Lee Snider Stadium. The Roughers of head coach Travis Hill arrive with a 2-6 overall record and a 2-2 district mark after falling to Choctaw, 49-32, at home last Friday night.
This season, Muskogee lost to Bentonville (Arkansas) West, 21-13; lost at Rogers, Arkansas (56-12) and Greenwood, Arkansas (63-21) before starting district play with a 42-12 win at Putnam City West. The Roughers lost to Sand Springs (48-34) and won at Bartlesville (49-14) before hosting Choctaw.
Choctaw led Muskogee 21-10 at half and outscored MHS 28-22 in the second half for the high-scoring victory.
COVID issues forced Muskogee to cancel a 2020 game with Bixby. The Spartans are riding a three-game win streak against the Roughers, winning at home 63-21 in 2019, rolling at Muskogee (63-21) in 2018 and winning at home (38-23) in 2017.
Muskogee’s last win over Bixby was a 45-42 home victory in 2016.
- 100 – The victory over Sand Springs allowed Coach Montgomery to reach a milestone with his 100th head coaching victory. He’s now 100-38 at Bixby. Officials presented Montgomery with the game ball afterward.
“It was kinda cool being presented the game ball. The first one I received was after we beat Jenks in 2017,” said Montgomery, who has a record of 100-38 at Bixby. “We have a lot of pride in the program. You go back and look at all the tremendous players we’ve had … the were so many good players. That’s what it’s all about … the players and wonderful assistant coaches. They all contributed.”
Bixby tri-captains Jack Puckett, Braylin Presley and Zack Blankenship were honored to be part of the milestone.
“It’s amazing for coach Montgomery to get his 100th win against a great team … it’s special,” Presley said. “He’s worked the past 12 years to get the program where it is right now.”
Puckett added, “It feels awesome to share that moment with him. He’s a great man and has taught us all valuable lessons … he’s here for a reason. Not only is he a great man he is a great coach, that’s why he’s been able to put us in the position that we’re in.”
Blankenship added, “– “It’s amazing. I have the utmost respect for coach Montgomery. I’ve been part of the program since he got here … I’ve just watched it evolve. It’s been amazing to be a part of it … he’s one of the best head coaches in Oklahoma.”
DEFENSIVE LEADERS – Bixby’s balanced defensive effort was led by Puckett’s 13 total tackles (six unassisted) and two tackles for losses, including a sack. Senior linebacker Stacy finished with 12 total tackles (four solos), three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Defensive back Cale Fugate was credited with eight tackles (five solos) while Jakeb Snyder, Preston Solomon and Beau Bertelli each finished with five tackles. Senior defensive end Miles Hill and senior lineman Brayden Darrell each had four tackles, three for loss and two sacks.
Bixby’s defense recorded seven sacks against the Sandites and has registered 32.5 sacks this season. SENIOR NIGHT – Prior to the start of the Muskogee game, Bixby will honor 31 seniors and their parents during Senior Night recognition.
“It’s a great group, we’ve got some phenomenal football players in that group,” Montgomery said. “I think this group may have been first graders when I got here.”
It’s a memorable night for the Spartan seniors but their focus, as always, will be on the district contest.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting for … I’ve wanted to be a part of the Spartan program my whole life. I wanted to show what I can offer to the program. There won’t be any lack of motivation next week,” Neasby said.
Stacy added, “My sophomore year I started playing football for Bixby High School and it’s gone by
really fast. With covid last year we didn’t’ have much summer stuff going on so I felt like we missed part of it. I’m not ready for it to be over, but we’re going to fight hard until it’s over.”
NOTEBOOK – Bixby’s winning streak was extended to 43 straight games, second best in state history.
… The Spartans moved up to the No. 20 ranking nationally by MaxPreps after the Choctaw win two weeks ago. … Sand Springs’ talented quarterback Ty Pennington was under pressure throughout but finished with 14 of 28 passing for 96 yards and two TDs. Keaton Campbell was his main target, catching five passes for 77 yards and two TDs. … On the season, Burke has passed for 1,735 yards and 22 touchdowns while being intercepted three times. Presley tops the Spartans in rushing – with 667 yards and 11 TDs – and in pass receiving with 41 catches for 513 yards and five TDs. He has 1,237 all-purpose
yards, averaging 176.7 all-purpose yards a game. Senior defenders Miles Hill and Jack Puckett lead Bixby’s defense in sacks with seven each. … Spartan Jakeb Snyder had one kick return for 66 yards while Zack Blankenship returned a kick 40 yards against the Sandites. … Senior members of The Pride of Bixby band and their parents were recognized prior to kickoff.
DISTRICT 2 – In other district games last Thursday, Bartlesville lost at Ponca City (34-7) and Putnam City West lost at Booker T. Washington (62-6).
In district games Friday Oct. 22, Choctaw (5-2, 3-1) visits Sand Springs, Ponca City (3-4, 2-2) goes to Booker T. Washington (6-1, 3-1) and Bartlesville (1-6, 0-4) visits Putnam City West (0-7, 0-4).
NON-DISTRICT FOES – Jenks (6-1) rolled at Edmond Santa Fe 35-14; Stillwater (5-2) whipped Lawton 49-13 while Mansfield (Texas) Timberview (3-3) hosted unbeaten Aledo last Friday night.