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Oklahoma Class 6AI state championship preview: Jenks attempting to derail Bixby's streak of titles

Spartans attempting to win sixth straight championship, while Trojans seek to tie state title record

With 12 championships and 15 appearances in state title games combined, it is only fitting that Jenks and Bixby are meeting in the 2023 Class 6AI final for the right to hoist the gold ball trophy after the game.

Kickoff for the highly anticipated contest is at 7 p.m. Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma's Chad Richison Stadium in Edmond.

Bixby (12-0), the visiting team according to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association 6AI playoff bracket, is the defending state champion after being moved up to Division I last season. The Spartans were in the title game every year during their time in 6AII from 2014-21, winning the championship seven out of eight years, including the last four as a 6AII member.

“We’re pretty excited. We’re honored to get to be in this game,” Bixby coach Loren Montgomery said. “At the beginning of each season, each time in Oklahoma, that is their goal to win a state championship. So to have an opportunity to play for one, we’re just thrilled."

Jenks (8-4), the home team, is going for its 19th state championship which would tie Ada for the most in Oklahoma history. It has won four gold balls in 6AI since 2014 and 15 titles since the legendary Allan Trimble took over as head coach of the program in 1996, with current coach Keith Riggs continuing the program's championship run, winning their most recent title in 2021.

“It’s very exciting for our kids and coaches, because ultimately this is one of those goals for us every year that our kids set out,” Riggs said. “So to make it to the championship game and give ourselves a chance for a state championship, and for these young men, especially our seniors, to be part of the Jenks Trojan football legacy is pretty special.

“It just adds to the specialness, if that’s a good way to put it to this game. Both programs have played at a really high level the last several years. Ideally, that’s what you want, the best two teams playing their best ball in the state championship game.”

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Montgomery also agrees that it's appropriate that the Spartans and Trojans were destined to square off for championship gold.

“You know, when it gets to be this time of year, it’s going to be all really good football teams that are left and it is everything that you would expect out of a championship ball game,” Montgomery said.


Everyone knows about the presence of the Jenks-Tulsa Union rivalry in the playoffs. Especially with the Trojans’ 33-27 win against the Redhawks in last week’s 6AI semifinal classic, adding another chapter to it.

But a new one has developed between the Trojans and the Spartans, and with both slated to square off in the final Friday proves it.

The rivalry has been ongoing for a long time, but had been one-sided in Jenks’ favor for four decades until Bixby took a 35-18 victory in week 1 of 2017 at Lee Snider Field.

The Trojans got the Spartans back one year later in the season opener on the same field, 28-14. The next week, Bixby embarked on its record 58-game winning streak, which included wins against Jenks from 2019-21.

Then came last season, when Bixby was moved up to 6AI by the OSSAA after eight seasons of dominating 6AII and placed in District 6AI-1 with the Trojans.

As championships of each division in 2021, both teams were scheduled to meet in Week 10, the final week of the regular season for 2022 and 2023.

ESPN2 chose to broadcast last year’s game at Bixby on Thursday night of Week 10 as part of its weekly national high school football telecasts.

The Spartans had taken their new division by storm all season, finishing some games scoring points ranging from the 60s to the 80s. But Jenks came in and beat them 38-35, ending the Spartans' win streak. At one-point, the Trojans led by 17 points before holding off a Spartans’ rally.

Both teams finished in a three-way tie with Norman North for the district championship, but Bixby still came out with the top seed in the playoffs by virtue of point differences.

When both teams met again in the state semis three weeks later in Broken Arrow, it was the Spartans who came out on top, 28-14, and advanced to the final in the state’s highest class.

It was just the sixth time in 27 seasons the Trojans did not appear in the final of 6A or 6AI, the highest class in Oklahoma high school football.

Bixby would go on to win the championship in its inaugural 6AI season with a 69-6 rout of Owasso.

In this year’s regular season meeting, Jenks controlled the first half with a 14-7 lead at halftime.

Quarterback Owen Jones threw a 31-yard TD pass to Khy Beaty to give Jenks the initial 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Jett Turner, who played on the Trojans’ title teams of ‘20 and ‘21 before transferring to Bixby last year, scored from 3 yards to tie it for the Spartans before the quarter closed.

Jenks tailback Kaydin Jones then bolted for a 36-yard TD with 3:22 left before the break.

Bixby then took over in the second half, outscoring Jenks 24-0 to win, 31-14.

Spartans’ quarterback Carson Kirby threw TD passes of 14, 42 and 36 to Blake Hogshooter, and Troy Nguyen hit a 35-yard field goal to break a 14-all tie for all the second-half scoring.

“I think we didn’t stick to the game plan and we were undisciplined as a team,“ Kaydin Jones said. “In the second half, our offense was not clicking. We couldn’t get anything going, and there is only so much our defense can do. They kept getting stops, but our offense wasn’t backing them up.

“But this time, I think we’re both (offense and defense) going to have each other’s backs, and we’re going to get it done. A new rivalry, and in any rivalry game, it is always going to be a great game."


Bixby is almost a different team compared to last season’s bunch, who had the likes of Connor Kirby, Jersey Robb, brothers Luke and Dylan Hasz, Cale Fugate and Jakob Snyder.

But their defensive front seven, as well as a few offensive linemen, have been back, paving the way for success from skill players like Cord Nolan, who also impacted the 2022 squad, along with quarterbacks Carson Kirby (Connor’s younger brother), Cooper Parker and Clay Peters, the Spartans’ three-man rotation behind center.

“Our back end was entirely new. Those guys have grown. Some of them had experience from last year from playing when someone was injured, or playing when we had a lead,” Montgomery said. “The (secondary) guys have done well. Kordell Gouldsby, Jeff Perez, Colton Kaiser and Clay Peters have really been good on the back end.

“On offense, Jett Turner and Cody Crull, our tailback, are taking more snaps than they did last year, and wide receivers Blake Hogshooter and Garrett Vaughn are new to the scene. I’m excited about the way our veterans have played, but also new guys who have embraced their roles as starters this year.”

The front seven on BIxby’s defense is made up of linemen Justin Kirk, Kason Hatley and Brandon Hobbs, along with linebackers Parker, Sam Puckett, Turner and Sam McCormick.

As for keys to the game, Montgomery said his team must refrain from miscues and not give up any big plays.

“Without a doubt, they’re playing at a high level right now, with a lot of confidence. They have a tremendous football team,” Montgomery said of Jenks. “Coach Riggs and his staff do a good job and that’s why it is always a close game every time we get together.

“First for us, we have to eliminate the penalties and turnovers from the first game, and that is always important in any big game. And, we need to eliminate Jenks’ big play. They got some real talented skill-level guys, so it’s going to be important for us to slow them down and limit their big plays.”

For the Trojans, Riggs said about the same thing, and minimize any momentum Bixby gets.

In the Spartans’ 56-14 win against Owasso last week of their state semifinal game, they were faced with a 14-all tie halfway through the third quarter after a Rams’ TD tied it. They answered immediately with a long 55-yard TD from Turner, then took advantage of a fumble recovery with Kirby sprinting to a 66-yard TD, followed by a 30-yard pick-six from Parker, all in less than two minutes.

They had complete command from there.

“Bixby does such a great job of capitalizing on their opponent’s mistakes, and getting the momentum rolling, and keeping it rolling, and then suddenly, you look up, the game is out of reach,” Riggs said.

“And they’ve been able to do that so often, and it’s paramount to us to not let momentum swings become bigger than minimize how big they are, and minimize the length of time, move on to the next play, just try to control those momentum swings the best we can.”

Riggs echoes a similar analysis to Jenks’ regular-season loss to Bixby on Nov. 3.

“I felt like we played pretty good ball in the first half,” Riggs said. “Second half, we didn’t get off to a great start. They opened up with a touchdown drive, then got the turnovers and field goal to take the lead. Then we were fighting an uphill battle from there.

"They forced us into some mistakes that kept us from completing drives, and allowed them to continue drives. We have to play really sound football each and every play. You’re not ever going to be mistake-free, but we really have to minimize our mistakes in the game, and be as sound on both sides of the ball as we can."

Photo of Bixby's Blake Hogshooter (7) by Brett Rojo, Tulsa World

-- Mike Moguin | @SBLiveOK