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Bixby's defense instrumental in extending Oklahoma football state championship streak to six

Early interceptions from Cooper Parker ignites momentum for Spartans in 6AI title win
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EDMOND, OKLAHOMA – While Bixby has been winning games by astronomical margins in recent years, Jenks has been the only team to play the Spartans close. 

Before both teams were to meet for the 2023 Class 6AI state football championship Friday at the University of Central Oklahoma's Chad Richison Stadium, the Trojans were the only team to beat Bixby in its previous 74 games in a regular-season game last year.

Bixby got Jenks back three weeks later by two touchdowns in the state semifinals last year; then beat the Trojans by 17 points in their regular-season finale on Nov. 3.

People were expecting a close game between both teams again in the state final, especially compared to last year, when the Spartans trounced Owasso, 69-6.

But as a sayin’ goes, “Not today!” Or in this case, “Not tonight.”

The Spartan defense came prepared against Jenks’ big-play offense, forced turnovers, and took advantage of their mistakes, and Bixby afflicted another rout as they’ve done to other opponents, finishing with a 49-21 win against the Trojans.

Bixby defeats Jenks: Oklahoma high school football state championship recap (12/1/2023)

While the offense had stellar performances from Kordell Gouldsby and Jett Turner, it was the defense that set them up.

Bixby (13-0) won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, allowing Jenks (8-5) to have the ball first.

The Trojans got off to good starts on each of their first two drives, only to get cut off by interceptions by Bixby junior linebacker Cooper Parker.

On Jenks' first possession, the Trojans moved the ball to the Bixby 49-yard line. Quarterback Owen Jones threw a deep pass downfield, but Parker was there to pick it off inside the 10.

After forcing the Spartans to punt, the Trojans moved again to the Bixby 29. But Parker picked them off again.

Momentum changed from that point.

Bixby took over at its own 20, took off with the running attack, en route to its first TD when Carson Kirby tossed a 12-yard strike to Cord Nolan.

Parker agrees that his picks jump-started his team.

“(It did) 100 percent. We knew we had to start off fast,” Parker said. “Because the last game, we kind of started off weak (referring to the Spartans’ win at Jenks on Nov. 3). At halftime we were down, so we had to start on fire in this game.

“It’s always a good game between us two, but (Friday), we really came out and did our thing. I’m really proud of our guys. They really played amazing."

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Parker added while Bixby is known for its lightning-strike offenses, the Spartans' defense is just as lethal. 

“I think we have the best defense in the state, honestly,” Parker said. “They think they do, but I think we do.”

One thing Bixby coach Loren Montgomery emphasized this week was eliminating Jenks’ big plays.

“Coach harped on it all week,” Parker said. “He said that if we stop all the explosive plays, we will win the game and that’s what we did."

Bixby built a 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and was up 21-0 in the second quarter.

Questions began to arise if the Spartans were going to run away like last year in the title game, but the Trojans never wavered.

When it appeared as if Bixby was going to add another score, a pass intended for Blake Hogshooter was tipped and Jenks junior defensive back Sam Stone made a pick-six, taking it back 80 yards for a TD.

That made the score 21-7. And the Trojans were quick to point out a week ago, when they rallied from a similar 21-0 hole to defeat Tulsa Union in the 6AI semifinals.

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But Friday was not meant to be for the Trojans.

Following Stone's TD, Gouldsby took the momentum right back for Bixby with his 95-yard kickoff return.

The Spartans defense would harass Jenks quarterback Owen Jones most of the night, sacking him five times, forcing receivers into missed catches and the offense into three-and-outs.

The only plus for Jenks was Kaydin Jones. The sophomore ran for 120 yards on 14 carried with one rushing TD.

Bixby eventually extended its advantage to 42-7 before Jenks got its first offensive touchdown.

Photos by Michael Kinney

-- Mike Moguin | @SBLiveOK