OKLAHOMA CITY – Expectations were realized last Friday night at Putnam City’s Stadium as unbeaten and top-ranked Bixby battled third-ranked Del City in a Class 6A-II state semifinal game.
Bixby expected Del City to field a talented, athletic team. The Spartans expected the Eagles to present offensive and defensive problems. Del City did both.
Bixby also expected to handle all challenges during the cold evening, ensuring that the Spartans would play in their sixth straight Class 6A-II championship game in two weeks.
Led by the passing of junior quarterback Mason Williams, running of sophomore Braylin Presley, the receiving of seniors Brennan Presley and Luke Creeger and numerous big plays defensively, the Spartans rolled past the Eagles, 47-19, to make their annual appearance in the state championship game.
Bixby, 12-0 and riding a 24-game winning streak, will play unbeaten and second-ranked Stillwater for the Class 6A-II gold ball at 7 p.m. Friday, December 6, at the University of Central Oklahoma’s stadium. Stillwater assured itself of a second straight state title game appearance by routing Choctaw, 62-12, in a state semifinal game at Yukon last Friday night.
“It never gets old going back to the state championship game. We’re excited about getting to practice on Thanksgiving and all the stuff that goes with playing in a state championship game,” Bixby head coach Loren Montgomery said as the jubilant Spartans celebrated.
Bra. Presley, who finished with 211 rushing yards on 15 carries, capped off Bixby’s opening drive by romping 14 yards for a touchdown. Reis Vernon’s conversion kick gave BHS a 7-0 advantage at the 11:12 mark of the first quarter.
It took Bixby three plays to increase the lead to 14-0 when Williams hit Creeger in stride with a 65-yard touchdown pass and Vernon nailed the conversion kick with 9:12 left in the opening stanza.
The Spartans appeared in position to take control of the contest on their third possession, but a pass from Williams deflected off Creeger and was intercepted by the Eagles’ Kyshon Murray in Del City territory.
Instead of going up 21-0, Bixby was in a 14-7 game after Del City’s senior quarterback Quinlan Ganther found a gap in the defensive line on fourth-and-one and raced 66 yards for the Eagles’ first score with 8:52 showing in the first quarter.
A 25-yard field goal by Vernon with 2:29 left gave the Spartans a 17-7 lead and Bixby benefited early in the second quarter when Del City’s Sherod Davis dropped a potential first down pass from Ganther in Spartan territory.
BHS didn’t squander the opportunity as it capped off the ensuing drive with an 11-yard touchdown burst by Bra. Presley for a 24-7 lead at the 9:20 mark of the second stanza.
Del City battled back on the second play of its next possession as Davis turned a pass reception from Ganther into an 86-yard touchdown after avoiding two Spartan tackle attempts. The Eagles’ two-point conversion run failed, leaving Bixby holding a 24-13 lead.
Bixby’s next scoring drive was set up by a recovered Eagle fumble by senior free safety Trevon Holt at the Del City 22. Three plays later, Williams connected with Bre. Presley for a 17-yard TD pass play and Vernon kicked the conversion for a 31-13 lead with 4:48 remaining until halftime.
Del City botched a punt attempt by Jahkobie Smith on its next possession. The ball was snapped high, Smith picked it up but was tackled in the end zone by Holt for a safety and 33-13 Bixby lead with 3:19 remaining.
The Spartans capitalized after the ensuing Eagle kick, ending the next drive with a nifty throw and catch for a five-yard TD pass play from Williams to Bre. Presley with 1:03 left before intermission. BHS overcame penalties on the drive while keeping the drive alive when Bre. Presley, who ended with nine catches for 79 yards and two scores, caught a 16-yard pass from Williams on a fourth-and-seven situation.
“I think we prepared really well because we knew they had a good defense. We just took what they gave us,” said Williams, who was 20-of-27 passing for 271 yards and three touchdowns. “It’s great going back to state.”
There was no scoring in the third quarter while the Spartans’ Bre. Presley erupted through a gaping hole in the offensive line and out-ran a pair of Eagles for a 71-yard TD jaunt with 6:51 left in the contest. Vernon’s kick made it 47-13.
Del City, which ends the season at 9-3, added a 16-yard touchdown pass from Ganther to Colin Liesinger with 1:44 left for the final margin.
“I felt good about how we played because they’ve got some guys who can go,” Coach Montgomery added. “I felt we probably could have put it away a little earlier, like in the first quarter when we had the tipped ball that they intercepted when we were driving.
“Then they scored off it and kept it close a little longer. We had some kids that played really well tonight. I was proud of the offensive line because they were seeing different looks.”
Del City ended with 372 yards of total offense – 182 passing and 190 rushing. Ganther was as good as advertised, completing 10-of-24 passes for 182 yards and two TDs while rushing 17 times for 84 yards and one score.
Bixby’s defense gave up some yards but made key plays throughout to keep the Eagles’ offense from gaining consistent momentum.
“We prepared hard all week because we knew they had athletes, like we saw in week one in Mansfield (Texas). We knew we had to be really precise,” said junior linebacker Nick Wedel. “I thought we did a really good job. It’s the greatest feeling … getting to play for a state championship.”
Senior defender Owen DeWoody agreed. “I think we played really well today. We had a few busts but other than that I thought we played well,” DeWoody said. “We were trying to contain their quarterback and for the most part I thought we did a good job containing him.”
Bixby plays for gold ball number five in two weeks. The Spartans have won four of the past five Class 6A-II state titles since the formation of the new classification.
One only had to look at the smiles on Bixby’s collective faces to understand the importance the 2019 Spartan players and coaches placed on keeping the trend intact.
NOTES – Bixby defeated Stillwater, 34-13, in the 2018 Class 6A-II state championship game. … Braylin Presley averaged 14.1 yards per rushing attempt against the Eagles. … Senior linebacker Brody Sartin was credited with 12 tackles, including five solo stops and two tackles for losses. Senior defender Bear Daniel had 10 tackles, including five solo tackles. … For the second straight playoff game, the Spartans were penalized nine times, for 100 yards Friday. Del City was flagged 12 times for 125 yards. … BHS averaged 9.8 yards per offensive play while Del City averaged 5.6 yards per play. …Spartan quarterback Mason Williams has thrown 45 TD passes this season, while Braylin Presley has rushed for 24 TDs and brother Brennan Presley has caught 23 TD passes. … In its three losses, Del City gave up 49 points at Carl Albert, 48 at Stillwater and 47 to the Spartans. … Bixby’s non-district opponent Jenks (8-4) advanced to the Class 6A-I state title game after a 48-20 win over Moore at Edmond North last Friday. …