The song "Fly" by Sugar Ray blared from the football stadium speakers on a hot afternoon at Bixby High School. And like the temperature, morale is high for the Spartans heading into the 2014 football season. "It's going to be a great year," exclaimed senior wide receiver Blake Cooper. "We've been playing together since what, fourth grade? It's going to be awesome!"
Coupled with that experience and camaraderie is a favorable classification change. Beginning this season, Oklahoma's largest classification, 6A, is being split into two divisions based on enrollment. Each will play for its own respective state championship. Bixby is in the smaller classification, 6A Division II.
"We knew we had talent from the get go. We were ready to play in any class," said senior linebacker Casey Saied. "We were ready to compete in Class 6A. But adding the class and the talent we have, we're pretty optimistic about this season."
Last season, the Spartans were headlined by a prolific offense which averaged over 30 points a game. And in 2014, they return nine starters to that offensive unit. It should make a new starting quarterback's transition much smoother.
"Tanner Griffin, our sophomore quarterback, he's got big shoes to fill," explained head coach Loren Montgomery. "We've had some good quarterbacks come through here. But he's experienced. We had him last year and he played in eight or nine ball games. And took eight or nine snaps in each of those games."
Bixby doesn't have to wait long to see how they compare to the best in the state. The Spartans open their regular season schedule on September 5th on the road against two-time defending state champ Jenks. And Griffin, the new starting quarterback, looks forward to the challenge of facing one of the best programs in high school football."Oh yeah, we talk about it every day," said Griffin. "See what you're made of."