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Spartan Footballers Adjust In 2020, Focused On 2021 – Presented by Fieldhouse Gear

By Ron Holt

In early March last year life changed. Business as usual came to a halt after the arrival of the coronavirus
pandemic.

All areas of normal life were affected including high school athletics as spring sports ended shortly after
beginning and questions arose about how sports would be affected going forward. It was a difficult year
with schools, coaches and teams forced to adapt in an uncertain time. There was no manual for dealing
with the pandemic.

Bixby’s No. 1 ranked Spartan football team endured the variety of distractions culminating in a 17-14
victory over No. 4 Choctaw in the Class 6AII State Championship game at the University of Central
Oklahoma’s Wantland Stadium. It was Bixby’s third consecutive state title and sixth in the past seven
seasons.

“During football season there is stress,” said Spartan head coach Loren Montgomery, who is preparing for
his 11th season at the helm. “You deal with somebody getting hurt, there was a turnover in a game, you
got behind early or somebody won’t be able to play this week,
“There were those things and then there was this overhanging feeling like what bad is about to happen.
You had to worry about quarantining or people getting sick … you can help but it’s something you can’t
control,” he added.

“Our kids and coaches took it very seriously and did a really nice job of limiting the number of
quarantines we had during the season. That was huge since we had the biggest roster we’ve ever had.
There were cancellations of games, but you had to prepare until you knew for sure about games. There
was a lot of stress. I think some good things will come out of it, but it was stressful.”

“We were fortunate especially when you look at some of the things other teams were going through. For
our kids well-being it was extremely important that we had extra-curricular events because it kept our
kids engaged. It’s a mental thing. It was a challenge and I think it will continue being a challenge.”

Bixby, which extended its winning streak to 36 games, recorded its second straight unbeaten season in
2020, finishing at 11-0. The Spartans had a game with Stillwater canceled resulting in a junior varsity
squad playing at Blanchard that week and they found out on a Thursday before a district game with
Muskogee that the game was canceled.

“I was unsure how we’d start the season,” Montgomery added. “I was concerned about that aspect of it
because one of the best things we do in our program is train and develop our kids. We had a gap there for
about four months where we didn’t get to do spring ball or seven-on seven and a lot of kids weren’t
lifting.”

“Where that had been a competitive advantage now it wasn’t. In retrospect I think every community had
its challenge with the virus.”

The pandemic halted the majority of Bixby’s important summer work, including 7-on-7 passing
competition, team camp and some workouts. The Spartan coaches maneuvered their way through last
summer and season and appear more prepared for spring and summer workouts in 2021. Because of huge
roster numbers, the coaches are being creative.

“The vaccine is promising for our at-risk population and hopefully we’ll see hospitalizations going down
and that we’ll find our outside activities becoming lower risk,” coach Montgomery said. “I think we’ll be
able to do more stuff. In 7-on-7 tournaments we are trying to enter two teams to get everybody
meaningful reps.

“In team camps we’re going to go with one varsity and two JV teams. Everything we’re doing is trying t
develop our kids. We don’t want anybody sitting on the shelf. We’ve got to be creative getting the reps.”
Because of schedule changes which included the loss of the opener with Mansfield (Texas) Timberview,
Bixby opened the season against two traditional Class 6AI powerhouses – Union and Jenks. They
defeated both teams at Lee Snider Stadium, opening the season on a dramatic, impressive note.

It set the stage for another successful run through the regular season highlighted by wins over eventual
Class 5A state champion Carl Albert and 6AII finalist Choctaw.

“After jumping from 5A to 6A in 2010, we always talked about signature wins. Our first signature win
would have been the 2014 state championship game when we beat Lawton,” Montgomery said. “The next
mark came when we beat Jenks so to beat Jenks and Union in the same year was a big deal for our
program. It created momentum.”

“Hopefully, we’ll get to resume our game with Mansfield Timberview. I think that’s really a big one for
us and it’s created a lot of interest from our coaches and players about what goes on down south. They
have lots of good players.”

Bixby had several holes to fill going into 2020 especially with only two starters returning on defense. The
progression of the defense was impressive – ending with a dominating performance in the state finals.
“The development of our defense and the progress they made was good with only two starters returning.
In the state championship game, it was good the way they settled down and started making plays,”
Montgomery noted. “Coach (Rodney) Flowers did a good job this season putting in new plays and
coverages.

“Offensively, we felt like some guys stepped in after we lost seven of our top receivers from the 2019
team. We had a couple of offensive linemen step in … I was pleased with our progress but there were
challenges. We obviously ran the ball well.”

With three-year starting quarterback Mason Williams at the controls, the Spartan offensive attack featured
junior running back Braylin Presley, who rushed for 1,744 yards and caught 57 passes for 727 yards. He
had 37 total touchdowns. He rushed for 218 yards and one TD in the championship game.
Presley, who has received numerous Division I football offers, was named to MaxPreps First Team
Offense nationally and was the Daily Oklahoman’s Offensive Player of the Year.

“Braylin likes the grind and likes to lift so I know he’ll continue working hard. I see his role expanding.
We need to get the ball to him in more ways. He’s super football smart,” Montgomery said.

In recent seasons, Bixby has featured two three-year starters at quarterback – Tanner Griffin and Mason
Williams. Finding a replacement for Williams will be a priority. “At every level, it’s your most important
position. coach (Tyler) Schneider does a good job developing quarterbacks. We have four guys competing
for the spot,” Montgomery said.

Williams, who was victorious in his last 36 starts, was 173-of-274 passing for 2,387 yards and 27
touchdowns his senior season and ended as the school’s career leader in passing yards with 9,103 and in
touchdown passes thrown with 110.

NOTABLES – Since starting the 225 Club – players who clean and jerk 225 pounds – Bixby puts up
banners with the names of players who accomplish the lift. In 2010 there were eight names on the banner.
Last year there were 80 names on the banner. “When we first got here, we weren’t very good so we felt
we had to get good at something … we could control getting stronger. It’s an expectation now. Our kids
know we’re going to lift,” Montgomery said. … Second in receiving for the Spartans in 2020 was
sophomore Luke Hasz, who caught 32 passes for 703 yards and nine TDs. He also has attracted major
college recruiting attention. … Senior free safety Tanner Doyle, junior linebacker Jack Puckett and senior
linebacker Nick Wedel led BHS defensively. Doyle was credited with 102 total tackles, Puckett with 83
and Wedel with 80. Sophomore Dylan Hasz had five pass interceptions and senior Devonta Owens ended
with three. … Spartan seniors signing to play collegiate football were Nick Wedel at East Central
University, Macqeilen Ware at Washburn University and Isaac Gibson at Ottawa University. … The 10th
annual Bixby Quarterback Club Golf Tournament is set Monday, May 17, at Indian Springs Country
Club.

ALL-STATE – Two Bixby seniors were named to the Oklahoma Coaches Association All-State
Football Team. Named to the East Offense was quarterback Mason Williams while safety Tanner Doyle
was named to the East Defense.
Named to the OCA’s Class 6A East Defense was linebacker Nick Wedel.
On the Tulsa World’s All-State Football Team, Williams and junior running back Braylin Presley were
first-team offense selections. Spartan offensive lineman Caleb Townsend was a second team offense
selection.

Honorable mention selections from Bixby included offensive lineman Justice Jeffords, linebackers Beau
Bertelli, Jack Puckett and Wedel, defensive backs Doyle and Dylan Hasz and kicker Connor Nolan.
ALL-DISTRICT – Spartan quarterback Mason Williams was named Most Valuable Player on the 2020
Class 6AII-All District 2 Team as selected by league coaches.
Bixby’s other all-district honorees included wide receivers Jackson Rogers and Isaac Gibson, offensive
lineman Caleb Townsend, defensive linemen Drew Shortess, Ethan Watkins, Isaac Sherman and
Macqueilen Ware, linebacker Nick Wedel and defensive back Tanner Doyle.

BIXBY 2020 SCORES – Bixby recorded its second straight undefeated season in 2020 defeating Tulsa
Union (34-0), Jenks (42-35), Bartlesville (74-7), at Carl Albert (56-14), Choctaw (24-13), at Sand Springs
(51-20), Ponca City (59-0), Del City (62-27, quarterfinals), Midwest City (49-20, semifinals), Choctaw
(17-14, state championship).

BIXBY’S 2021 SCHEDULE – Aug. 27: vs. Mansfield Timberview, Sept. 3: at Jenks, Sept. 10: open
date, Sept. 17: vs. Stillwater, Sept. 24: at Bartlesville, Oct. 1: vs. Putnam City West, Oct. 8: at Choctaw,
Oct. 14: vs. Sand Springs; Oct. 22: Muskogee; Oct. 29: at Ponca City; Nov. 5: at Tulsa Washington.

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