By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Editor’s Note: This issue was published before this year’s state championship game due to the December deadline. The 2020 championship game will be profiled in the January issue of the Bixby Breeze.
Bixby continues to demonstrate its gridiron power these days.
The Spartans played for another Class 6AII state championship on Dec. 5 against Choctaw in Edmond, seeking a sixth title in seven seasons. Bixby has played in every state title game in its division since the 6A in 2014.
After winning state that year, Bixby would repeat for its second title in 2015. But the road was dealt with adversity.
Key players back were junior quarterback Tanner Griffin, senior running back Nic Roller, senior wide receiver Cade Cabbiness and senior offensive lineman Pryce Stickney.
There was also junior defensive lineman Brendan Evers, now playing at Oklahoma State.
Bixby opened the year with a 58-24 loss to Jenks, then bounced back with a dominating 71-7 win against East Central in week two. The Spartans took to the road in their next two games with wins at Springdale, Ark. (57-38) and Claremore (47-27), the latter being was its district opener.
At that point, Bixby was 3-1 overall and 1-0 in district play.
But then came a loss at home to Bartlesville (50-33). The Spartans would come back with wins at Ponca City (43-21) and at home over Sapulpa (53-17).
Then came another setback as Booker T. Washington came to town to inflict a 52-7 rout.
A big win in week nine against Muskogee at home was a key highlight in the season as the Spartans beat the Roughers 48-41 in overtime
Then came another loss at Sand Springs in the regular season finale as the Spartans were dealt a 20-0 shutout by the Sandites.
Bixby finished the regular season 6-4 overall and 4-3 in its district. But when the playoffs came, it regained its championship form. The Spartans rolled 36-6 at Lawton, whom it beat in the 2014 final, then avenged their loss to Bartlesville with a 67-21 rout of the Bruins in the semifinals. They would then get a rematch with Sand Springs in the final at Union Tuttle Stadium.
The Spartans would be victorious in a 38-28 win.
Bixby opened the game with a quick 16-0 lead. But would go through a phase midway through the game in which the Sandites had momentum.
Sand Springs scored a touchdown before halftime, cutting the Spartan lead to 16-7. Two more TDs, including an interception taken back for a score, put the Sandites up 21-16 in the third quarter.
But Bixby answered with a 1-yard TD by Roller, who added a two-point conversion making it 24-21.
The Spartans would allow another Sandite TD in the fourth quarter and trailed again. But there would be no more scoring from the opposition.
A 73-yard drive capped by a 17-yard TD pass from Griffin to Cabbiness put Bixby up 31-28.
Roller added the last TD from 18 yards with 58 seconds left and Bixby clinched its second straight gold ball. It would finish the year with a 9-4 record.
Roller finished the game with 164 yards and four TDs on 37 carries after being limited to 44 yards one month earlier in the regular season loss. He closed out his Bixby career with over 4,900 yards rushing.