Skip to main content

Oklahoma high school football final Top 25 rankings for 2023 season

Bixby once again wins Class 6AI title and cements its place at No. 1
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Note: This is part of a week-long series of stories dedicated to the SBLive Oklahoma 2023 All-State football team. More stories will be published later in the week. 

Another prep football season in Oklahoma has come and gone. 

Four teams, Bixby (Class 6AI), Midwest City Carl Albert (5A), Washington (2A) and Fairview (A), repeated as state champions in 11-man football, while three others who made it to the big stage, Stillwater (6AII), Wagoner (4A) and OKC Heritage Hall (3A), were forced to settle for a runner-up finish. 

In eight-man football, Seiling took the Class B championship and Tipton repeated as the Class C champions.

Here is the final SBLive Oklahoma Top 25 football rankings for the 2023 season.

1. Bixby (13-0 in Class 6AI) 

Previous Game: Beat Jenks, 49-21, in the Class 6AI state final

The Spartans began 2023 on top and stayed there all year, keeping their dynasty alive by winning their ninth state championship in 10 seasons in 2023. It began in 2014 when Class 6A split into two divisions. Bixby would take the Class 6AII title that year, beginning a run of seven gold balls in eight seasons before being bumped up to 6AI in 2022.

After dominating opponents such as Sand Springs and Tulsa Booker T. Washington in their latter years of 6A Division II, there were questions about how the Spartans would fare competing with Jenks and Tulsa Union in 6A Division I. However, they had beaten the Trojans four of the previous five years and Union in 2020 in non-district play, and showed they belonged, continuing their dominating ways en route to back-to-back championships in their first two years of 6AI. 

While Bixby had mostly new skill players in the lineup, it had most of its line on both sides back which helped provide a difference to win state for a sixth consecutive year.

There were the “Sack Kings” on defense; Justin Kirk, Brandon Hobbs, Kason Hatley, Hank Puckett and others, making life hard for opposing quarterbacks and backfields. Veteran offensive lineman Brody Duffel, Evan McClure, Payton Hawkins, Nathan England, and Broderick Shull paved the way for Bixby’s 3-quarterback rotation of Carson Kirby, Cooper Parker and Clay Peters, wide receiver Kordell Gouldsby, tight end Cord Nolan and running back Jett Turner to score points.

Shull is the only lineman that returns next season from both sides. The others, along with Peters, Gouldsby and Turner, graduate.

Bixby is coached by Loren Montgomery, who completed his 14th season at the helm.

2. Midwest City Carl Albert (14-0 in Class 5A)

Previous Game: Beat Del City, 35-14, in the Class 5A state final

The Titans were expected to repeat as state champions in their class and they did just that, keeping their dynasty going with their seventh title in eight seasons. It is also the 18th for Carl Albert in school history, tying the program with Jenks for second-most football championships in Oklahoma.

CA overcame a big test against a solid Guthrie team that had a stubborn defense in Week 8, being the first team to score a TD against the Bluejays in the 2023 season.

OU commits Xavier Robinson (running back) and Kevin Sperry (quarterback) were the key thrusts behind the Titans’ offense.

Carl Albert is coached by Mike Dunn, who finished his seventh season since taking over for the legendary Gary Rose.

3. Washington (15-0 in Class 2A)

Previous Game: Beat OKC Millwood, 41-24, in the Class 2A state final

The Warriors were another team that were expected to repeat after winning it all in 2022. They had most of its starters back, including Division I talent. Led by quarterback Major Cantrell and tight end Nate Roberts, Washington went a perfect 15-0 again en route to its third state title in history.

Coached by Brad Beller, the Warriors met OKC Millwood (13-2) in the Class 2A state championship game for a second consecutive year.

Unlike 2022, when it trailed by one touchdown and rallied with 10 points for a 17-14 win, Washington was down 18-7 at halftime before outscoring the Falcons with a 34-6 explosion in the second half to get its repeat.

4. Tulsa Lincoln Christian (14-0 in Class 3A)

Previous Game: Beat OKC Heritage Hall, 48-28, in the Class 3A state final

The Bulldogs won their first title since 2019 after coming up short the next two years and falling in the state semifinals last season. Their 2023 championship marks their third gold ball in school history.

Key players for Lincoln Christian consisted of quarterback Luke Milligan, running backs Moses Fullingim and Sawyer Brooks. Jerry Ricke is the head coach.

5. Fairview (15-0 in Class A)

Previous Game: Beat Hooker, 34-8, in the Class A state final

Coached by Robert Bernard and led by likes of Jax Bernard and Isaiah Burris, the Yellowjackets routed all but one opponent this season en route to repeating as Class A state champions.

Their most challenging game was a 19-7 win over Crescent in the second round of the playoffs. After a fierce 32-28 win over Gore in the 2022 A title game, the Yellowjackets managed a more convincing victory against district foe Hooker in the 2023 Class A final.

6. Muskogee (11-2 in Class 6AII)

Previous Game: Beat Stillwater, 28-26, in the Class 6AII state final

Expectations were high for the Roughers and they were fulfilled with a state title for the first time in 37 years.

Coached by Travis Hill, quarterback Jamarian Ficklin led the charge, along with tight end and UNLV signee Kayden McGee, wide receiver Ondraye Beasley, and defensive players such as Anthony Watson and Deyonn Bowler, the Roughers rocked through the campaign, although there were a few blemishes. That included Stillwater, whom it lost to in the regular season finale, costing Muskogee the district title. But they got their revenge on the Pioneers when it mattered most one month later for the state crown.

7. Blanchard (13-1 in Class 4A)

Previous Game: Beat Wagoner, 19-14, in the Class 6A state final

The Lions came out of nowhere and broke into the Top 25 after a Week 6 win against district rival Tuttle. They finished the season with surprise wins over Poteau in the state semifinals and a Wagoner team that was expected to win it all in the state final.

Carson Cooksey, Brayson Carter, Lade Saunders and Coric Pierce were among the key players in Blanchard’s state title run. They were under the direction of coach Jeff Craig.

8. Seiling (15-0 in Class B)

Previous Game: Beat Velma-Alma, 48-16, in the Class B state final

Coached by Gary Manuel, senior quarterback Kaden Manuel ran for over 300 yards and scored seven TDs in leading the Wildcats in their repeat of a state championship.

9. Tipton (14-0 in Class C)

Previous Game: Beat Ryan, 42-6, in the Class C state final

The Tigers were impressive in their final, rolling up over 500 yards of offense while giving up no TDs on defense.

10. OKC Millwood (13-2 in Class 2A)

Previous Game: Lost to Washington, 41-24, in the Class 2A state final

For the second consecutive year, the Falcons did not end the season the way they hoped.

Millwood met Washington again in the Class 2A state final and was up 18-7 at halftime, but they were outscored 34-6 in the second half, paving the way for another silver ball.

But it doesn’t change the fact the phenomenal year they had behind coach Darwin Franklin, the likes of quarterback C.J. Turnbull, wide receiver Xzavier Thompson, freshman running back Anthony Keys, OU commit and two-way starter Jaden Nickens (who after the season transferred to crosstown rival Douglass), defensive lineman Micho Lavine; the list goes on.

11. Hooker (12-3 in Class A)

Previous Game: Lost to Fairview, 34-8 in the Class A final

Coached by Trevor Powers, the Bulldogs lost their opener, then won their next two games, then lost their district opener to Fairview, for a 2-2 start. Then they reeled off 10 straight wins including an upset of Hominy in the Class A state semifinals before another meeting with Fairview in the final, whom they lost to a second time. The Bulldogs gave up just 34 points to the Yellowjackets compared to 56 in their regular-season matchup.

Hooker got its only points on a 26-yard TD pass from sophomore Keilan Robinson to freshman Justin Palacios in the fourth quarter when Fairview was way out on front.

Still, the Bulldogs are to be commended for an outstanding run to state.

12. Wagoner (13-1 in Class 4A)

Previous Game: Lost to Blanchard, 19-14, in the Class 4A state final

After pulling off an upset in the 2022 Class 4A state title game with a last-second field goal, the Bulldogs appeared destined to repeat as they ran through their schedule and the playoffs unscathed. But in the 2023 Class 4A state title game, it was Wagoner on the receiving end of the upset to Blanchard, when the Bulldogs threw a pass that came up incomplete in the end zone on the last play of the game.

Many key players such as Kale Charboneau and Alex Shieldnight (an OU commit) return in 2024, but Vanderbilt signee Witt Edwards graduates. No doubt the loss will serve as a motivation for a return to the state final next season.

13. OKC Heritage Hall (13-1 in Class 3A)

Previous Game: Lost to Tulsa Lincoln Christian, 48-28, in the Class 3A state final

Led by quarterback and OU walk-on signee Andy Bass, the Chargers appeared on their way to another state title until he incurred an injury in the third quarter of the title game.

Things weren’t the same after that as Heritage Hall gave up 41 unanswered points after a three-TD lead.

However, it doesn’t take away from the accomplishments made by the Chargers this season.

14. Jenks (8-5 in Class 6AI Runner-up)

Previous Game: Lost to Bixby, 49-21, in the Class 6AI state final

The Trojans overcame starts of 0-2 and 2-3 to make another fine run to the Class 6AI state championship game. After losing key players to graduation last year, Broken Arrow transfers Owen Jones and Kaydin Jones, no relation, arrived to make a difference.

15. Hominy (13-1 in Class A)

Previous Game: Lost to Hooker, 27-24, in the Class A state semifinal

Coached by Caleb Christian and led by quarterback Jaxon Woods, the Bucks had an impressive campaign that included a key district win against Woodland in Week 9. Hominy was looking like it was going to meet Fairview in the state final, but that was cut short by Hooker, who stunned the Bucks in the semifinals, forcing Hominy to finish as state semifinalists for a second straight year.

16. Del City (12-1, Class 5A Runner-up)

Previous Game: Lost to MWC Carl Albert, 35-14, in the Class 5A state final

It was an incredible year for the Eagles. They worked their way to the Class 5A championship game with a high-speed offense led by quarterback River Warren, running back and Oklahoma State signee Rodney Fields, and his cousin, wide receiver and Oklahoma State signee LaDainian Fields, winning the District 5A-3 championship along the way.

Robert Jones is the coach at Del City.

17. Tulsa Union (10-2 in Class 6AI)

Previous Game: Lost to Jenks, 33-27, in the Class 6AI state final

The Redhawks produced another outstanding campaign on the gridiron with quarterback Shaker Reisig, wide receivers Jino Boyd and Brendon McQueen, and Jenks transfer running back Jordan Schelling among key players fueling the offense. But Union could not get past arch-rival Jenks, neither in the regular season nor in the state semifinals, where their season came to an end.

Both games were classics added to the historic battles of the rivalry.

Kirk Fridrich finished his 17th season as head coach of the program.

18. Owasso (9-3 in Class 6AI)

Previous Game: Lost to Bixby, 56-14, in the Class 6AI state semifinal

The Rams made another strong run. They had quarterback Knox Dyson, wide receivers J’Kharri Thomas, Deuce Chalk and Noah Hill, and running backs Jayden Hall and Jayson Moll.

Legendary head coach Bill Blankenship retired less than two weeks after the Rams’ state semifinal loss. It was his seventh season at Owasso. The Rams won 6AI state titles in 2017 and 2019 under his direction and finished as runners-up in 2022.

Antonio Graham, one of his assistants, was immediately promoted as his replacement.

19. Stillwater (10-3, Class 6AII Runner-up)

Previous Game: Lost to Muskogee, 28-26, in the Class 6AII state final

After an 0-2 start, the 2022 6AII state champions bounced back with 10 straight wins including the District 6AII-1 championship. But the Pioneers came up short in their bid to repeat as state champions in a two-point loss to Muskogee, whom they beat in the regular-season finale to win the district.

Chad Cawood took over the reins at Stillwater after Tucker Barnard left to accept the coaching job at Shiloh Christian in Springdale, Ark. Holden Thompson, Heston Thompson, Talon Kendrick and Oklahoma State tight end commit Josh Ford were among the pivotal players for the Pioneers.

20. Edmond Deer Creek (9-3, Class 6AII State Semifinalist)

Previous Game: Lost to Muskogee, 36-35, in the Class 6AII state semifinal

The Antlers, coached by Wade Standley, began 2023 with a shaky 1-2 start then ran the table through district play, including a victory against Choctaw, the 2022 6AII state runners-up.

Deer Creek earned one playoff win before being ousted by eventual state champion Muskogee in the semifinals.

21. Choctaw (8-2, Class 6AII State Semifinalist)

Previous Game: Lost to Stillwater, 33-29, in the Class 6AII state semifinal

Choctaw had to overcome some early-season adversity when a shooting happened outside the stadium during their Week Zero season opener against Del City, which was in progress. The game ended up getting canceled, as well as a scheduled matchup at Edmond Santa Fe the following week.

Coached by Jake Corbin, the Yellowjackets finally got an official game in on Week 2 at Westmoore with a win. They finished the regular season as District 6AII-2 champion before meeting Stillwater in a rematch of the 2022 Class 6AII final in the state semifinals. They came up short.

22. Poteau (12-1, Class 4A State Semifinalist)

Previous Game: Lost to Blanchard, 26-14, in the Class 4A state semifinals

Coached by Greg Werner, and with Tulsa signee Dax Collins as one of their key players, the Pirates were a powerful force in 4A until they were upended by eventual state champion Blanchard in the semifinals.

23. Guthrie (11-2 in Class 5A)

Previous Game: Lost to Del City, 47-14, in the Class 5A state quarterfinals

The Bluejays are one of two 5A teams that land in the final top 25 poll that did not reach the state semifinsls in their class. They made it due to an incredible defense that enforced seven shutouts in their regular season games, outscoring opponents, 489-33.

The Bluejays’ defense, however, could not stop Carl Albert in a regular-season battle while allowing 24 points in a three-point loss and finished as District 5A-2 runners-up. Then in the second round of the playoffs, they couldn’t shut down Del City’s high-powered offense.

24. Claremore (10-2 in Class 5A)

Previous Game: Lost to Del City, 34-13, in the Class 5A state semifinals

Coached by Jarrett Hurt, the Zebras had their first unbeaten start since 1979 and came out on top of some thrillers. That included the playoffs where they won a high-scoring offensive battle at home against Sapulpa, 48-47, in the first round, then followed up with a low-scoring defensive battle over Elgin, 7-6, in the quarterfinals. Their only regular-season loss was a 42-41 setback on the road to Tulsa Bishop Kelley in Week 8.

Claremore’s luck ran out in the semifinals when they faced the high-powered offense of Del City.

25. Elgin (11-1 in Class 5A)

Previous Game: Lost to Claremore, 7-6, in the Class 5A state quarterfinals

Coached by Chalmer Wyatt and led by the impact of running back Matt Lund, the Owls had their best season ever and were unbeaten until their loss to Claremore in the state quarterfinals. They are the other 5A team to not make the state semifinals and land in the final Top 25.

Photo of Bixby's Kordell Gouldsby (with ball) by Michael Kinney

-- Mike Moguin | @SBLiveOK