Originally Published: Aug 20, 2010 5:35 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Mobile Journalist
TULSA, Oklahoma – The Bixby Spartans have a new leader.
Loren Montgomery joined the coaching staff back in February, taking over for Pat McGrew. He inherits a team that made it all the way to the state championship game in 2009. The Spartans fell to the Carl Albert Titans, 21-7.
With a new sheriff in town, Bixby could get another shot at a gold ball this fall.
“I think the boys have gotten to know us coaches really well and know our expectations,” said Montgomery. “There have obviously been a few bumps in the road and the kids have had to adjust to us coaches.”
The Spartans missed their shot at a 5A gold ball last season. Now, they’ll need to set their sights on a 6A gold ball. Bixby moves up a class this season to battle with the likes of Union, Jenks and Bartlesville.
“It’s a big jump,” said Montgomery, who knows a lot about 6A. “Anytime you’re going from the number of students that 5A schools have to the number of students that 6A schools have, you’re talking about a big difference in the way you structure practice and the way you platoon the kids.”
Bixby has had some successes against 6A schools last season. They played very well against Claremore, winning 35-20. They struggled against Jenks, though, in the season opener, falling 47-6.
“The one thing I see here at Bixby is that we’ve got skill guys who are just as good as any skill guys in 6A,” smiled Montgomery. “It’s very, very exciting.”
Bixby lost two senior leaders on offense. Quarterback Kevin Lamb and running back Dewitt Jennings both graduated, leaving huge holes on that side of the football for the Spartans.
On defense, the Spartans held opponents to just over 15 points per game a year ago. They outscored their opponents in the playoffs 79-75.
2009: 9-5/5-2 record, second in 5A-District 3.
PLAYOFFS: Lost to Carl Albert in the state finals of the 2009 postseason.
BEST PLAYER:T.J. Eckert. The junior quarterback got much needed experience in 2009 when Bixby’s started got injured. He also played well as a wide receiver during the year. His leadership ability and steady decision making will be key to the Spartans’ success in 2010.
BIGGEST GAME: Week 6 at Bartlesville, October 8th. You can make an argument that the games against Jenks and Union are bigger, but neither of those games are district battles. The Bruins and Spartans may be the two favorites in the district heading into the season, and that game could prove to be an essential tie-breaker when it’s all said and done.