It’s 8 a.m. on the first Monday in December. The weight room is one of the last places you’d expect to find football players who, four days previously, had just completed their high school football season.
That’s not the case at Bixby, where you’d never know the Spartans had just won their 49th straight game and captured their seventh state championship in eight years. It was business as usual in the weight room. It was full of players working out before school and they were already focusing on next season.
“Early on,” said Montgomery, “it was like, ‘What do you mean we’re going right back at it? We just finished the season yesterday. We need some time off.’ We do give them some time off, but we have strength and conditioning in the school day so we’re at work every single day. That’s kind of what we do and what our kids expect.”
“We have the best weight room in the state of Oklahoma,” stated Montgomery. “The way we do strength training in Bixby, Oklahoma, is the competitive advantage we have over our opponents. The kids understand that the reason we have the opportunity to be good is because of the way we commit to the process. We continue to train and develop and maximize everyone’s potential.”
The Spartans certainly maximized their potential this season. They outscored their opponents by an average of 53 points per game and defeated Deer Creek 63-14 in the 6A-II state title game. They also beat eventual 6A-I state champion Jenks early in the season.
“We had a really good football team with a lot of talented players,” claimed Montgomery, who also earned his 100th career victory earlier in the season. “They really played together. I think that’s the main thing. On top of that, I was proud of the way they continued to go out and execute each week with the pressure of being undefeated, the pressure of winning another state championship and the pressure of being the favorite. I thought our kids handled it extremely well.”
This year’s team had 31 seniors on its roster, the largest senior class in Bixby football history. They experienced four state championships and never lost a game their sophomore through senior seasons. The last time Bixby lost was in the 2018 season opener to Jenks.
“It’s probably the most accomplished senior class we’ve ever had,” Montgomery said. “We had some really good football players in the group. I could go down the line of the 31 guys, from the biggest star on Friday night, Braylin Presley, to the 31st guy on that list. They all brought a tremendous amount of value to our program and our team.”
If Presley didn’t bring the most value to Bixby this season, he certainly provided the most highlights. Despite playing sparingly in the second half of games, the 5-10, 160-pound dynamo rushed for 1,105 yards and 17 touchdowns and had 56 catches for 665 yards and another seven scores. For his efforts, he was recently named Oklahoma’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year.
The championship trophies on display provide a constant reminder of past accomplishments, but Bixby continues to be successful because they’ve managed to avoid complacency and entitlement that sometimes creeps into a football program.
“The way we handle it is, we encourage the kids to enjoy the win and all that good stuff,” said Montgomery. “To be quite honest with you, on the bus ride home from the state championship, our coaches are already kicking around ideas for next year and what we’re going to do the following week.
“I just got out of exit interviews with our underclassmen,” added Montgomery. “We meet with each kid individually and find out their goals and target things for them to work on in the offseason.”
It’s business as usual for Bixby football.