By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Bixby is rocking and rolling through another season, appearing destined for another state title in Class 6AII.
Skill position players like quarterback Mason Williams, running back Braylin Presley, wide receivers Luke and Dylan Hasz and Tanner Doyle are making big plays racking up points.
The key element to those guys thriving is having solid offensive linemen up front to block.
One of them is Caleb Townsend, a 6’0″, 251-pound senior who made his share of key blocks from his left tackle spot, making things easy for Williams and Presley to make big plays in Bixby’s 56-14 win over Carl Albert, last year’s Class 5A state champion, earlier this season.
“I call it part of the process,” Townsend said. “We come out here every day with an intense practice. I don’t care who you are or what your record is, we’re going to come hit you in the mouth as hard as we can and bring it every single time.
“On the goal line, I had a pancake block and we ran a backside for a touchdown (against Carl Albert),” Townsend said. “I think every play really matters the most. As long as you do your job and everyone else does their job, you’ll have good plays. I don’t think I’m just a stand-alone out there, it’s the entire line.”
And Townsend thinks highly of his fellow linemen.
“I think they’re very good,” he said. “Our right tackle (Justice Jeffords) has increased in skill and is very fast. He was able to step up and play for us this year, which is great. And both our guards (Levi Dunsmore-left; Ian Lonsdale-right) have come in on short notice, learning all the plays and stuff. They’re younger guys getting after it and our starting center (Cody Paschall), is just bringing the intensity in every day.”
Any pancake block Townsend makes, he considers a memorable block, he gleefully said.
While he is pleased with his performances, Townsend believes “you can always improve and get better,” he said.
Townsend said that “technique over anything” is important to have success as an offensive lineman.
“If you have good technique, good angles, you can move anyone,” he said.
His favorite guard is Quenton Nelson of the Indianapolis Colts. “He has an all-seeing eye on the offensive line,” Townsend said. “It is crazy what he picks up, blitzes and what not. If you look at some of his highlights, there will be a blitz from across the field and he will pull on a pass play and pick up the blitz.”
Townsend has been attending Bixby since eighth grade. He was at Metro Christian beforehand.
He began playing football in kindergarten and has always played the lineman position.
Townsend also plays baseball, where he is exclusively a right-handed pitcher. He had an impressive performance against a powerhouse foe last spring, before the season eventually got cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was pretty annoying. I had an eye opener against Owasso. I had six strikeouts. It was a good opening game for me pitching-wise and I had just recovered from a shoulder injury and then the season got canceled,” Townsend said.
Being a pitcher benefits his performance on the line,
“In baseball, since I’m a pitcher, I got to explode off one leg a lot. Using the power of my legs to pitch translates over to drive people off the line,” Townsend said.
Bixby opened the season with back-to-back victories against Class 6AI powers Union (34-0) and Jenks (42-35).
“I love it,” Townsend said. “I think it’s awesome that we get to contend with them and beat them. I think we might be moving up soon. I would love to compete with them, especially Owasso (last year’s 6AI champion). I think everyone would love to see that game (a matchup between Bixby and Owasso).”
In late September, Bixby rolled up 74 points in its District 6AII-2 opener against Bartlesville, who only got seven. That was a game in which Williams set a school record for career touchdown passes.
Bixby and Stillwater have met in the Class 6AII title game the past two seasons. Townsend believes both programs will dual for it again, making it a third straight year.
The two teams were to meet Sept. 18 in Stillwater. But the game was canceled due to COVID.
As of mid-October, the Spartans were 6-0 overall and 3-0 in District 6AII-2 play. After the win over Carl Albert, they have beaten Choctaw (24-13) and Sand Springs (51-20). They had games scheduled at Muskogee (Oct. 23), at home against Ponca City (Oct. 30) through the rest of the month.
The Spartans will conclude the regular season at home Nov. 6 against Booker T. Washington.
“Every game is going to be the same,” Townsend said. “We prepare every day the same, the intensity is always up, we’re going to treat every game like it’s our last and like it’s a state game.”