Last season: 6-5, lost in Class AAAAAA first round
Coach: Louis Daniel (first season)
Playoff appearances: 3
Last appearance: 2013
Region titles: 0
State titles: 0
Date Opponent (2013)
Aug. 22 Lanier (8-3)
Sept. 5 at Johns Creek (0-10)*
Sept. 12 at Centennial (1-9)*
Sept. 19 Alpharetta (9-3)*
Sept. 26 at North Forsyth (7-4)*
Oct. 3 Off
Oct. 10 Habersham (0-10)*
Oct. 17 at Northview (5-5)
Oct. 24 at West Forsyth (7-4)
Oct. 31 Chattahoochee (4-6)*
Nov. 7 South Forsyth (7-3)*
*Region 6-AAAAAA game
Lambert received good and bad news this summer.
The good: Trevor O’Brien, the county leader in rushing last season, transferred in from West Forsyth for his senior season. Trevon McSwain, a 6-foot-7 defensive end and Duke verbal commit, moved from Lanier to Lambert for his senior year.
The not-so-good: junior quarterback Tucker Maxwell, who the Longhorns planned to play on both sides of the ball, decided to end his football career in order to focus on baseball. Maxwell suffered a severe quad strain early in the summer and only started to run again by the beginning of August.
"Tucker saw what happened to his brother, Brock (now a sophomore baseball player at South Carolina), who suffered some football injuries that got to him in college. He didn’t want to go down that road," new Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said.
Daniel, the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator since the program started in 2009, took over for Sid Maxwell in April. Maxwell led Lambert to three state playoff appearances in four varsity seasons.
Maxwell’s absence means Daniel has a major question on his hands before he’s coached a down: which sophomore quarterback — neither of whom has thrown a varsity pass — calls the signals? Mid-way through fall camp, Daniel hinted that Reid Martin led Richie Kenney in the race because of his consistency and grasp of Lambert’s spread offense.
"Those quarterbacks are young, but they understand that their job is to control the ball, not turn it over and give our playmakers chances to make something happen," Daniel said.
With Maxwell no longer in the fold, Martin and Kenney will have to learn on the fly. Martin started for the junior varsity last season, while Kenney quarterbacked Lambert’s freshman squad so that they both could play every game.
"Any time you’re coaching a sophomore quarterback stepping in to play Class AAAAAA football, it’s going to be a learning experience," Daniel said. "They’re young and still growing in to their bodies, but they’re smart kids who are going to do everything to put the team in the best position possible."
O’Brien has had no trouble fitting in at Lambert after piling up 1,052 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns last season.
"He’s a big, big-time competitor. There’s been no adjustment for Trevor because he’s a great athlete who played in an offense similar to ours [at West]," Daniel said. Running back Kameron Pickett (502 yards last season) transferred to North Gwinnett. Daniel likes what he’s seen out of slot back Drew Cole (Sr., 6-0).
Tanner Hall (Jr., 6-1) caught a team-high 17 passes last season — many of them on deep or fade routes. Daniel said Hall has added to his game this summer by becoming more elusive, able to make defenders miss in space. Tight end Will Dunavant (Sr., 6-3, 200) is a versatile option in the passing game.
Daniel feels more confident in his depth along the offensive line than he has in several years, despite the departures of Kevo Yeremian (First Team All-County), Cody Dreyer (Second Team All-County), Logan Wood and Jeremy Zimmerman. Sean Bailey (Jr., 6-6, 340) and Nick Nieuwhof (Jr.) both have starting experience. Jason Regulski (Jr.), Parker Reynolds (So.), Jack Carmichael (Sr.) and Cliff Snyder (Jr.) step in to increased roles.
Lambert coaches like their talent in the secondary. Jeremy Johnson (Sr., 5-11, 165) committed to play baseball at Auburn recently, but a First-Team All-County performance at cornerback earned him football offers from Harvard, Yale and Furman, among others. He led the county with six interceptions.
"Jeremy has some of the best instincts I’ve ever seen," Daniel said. "When the recruiters call, they say what jumps out is how much of the field he covers and how good he is at finding the ball."
Patrick Noble (Sr., 6-1) has earned the attention of college coaches as a rangy cornerback with speed. Hunter Shepherd (Sr.) and Houston Earnest (Sr.) will see significant time at cornerback and safety.
Trevon McSwain had 67 tackles (seven for loss) and nine sacks last season to help Lanier reach the second round of the Class AAAAA state playoffs.
"I’ve actually known about Trevon for a few years now," Daniel said. "My brother-in-law [David Willingham] is the defensive coordinator at Lanier. He called me one day this summer and said, ‘My 6-foot-7 defensive end is coming to Lambert,’ and I said, ‘Cool.’"
McSwain couldn’t have arrived at a better time for Lambert, as the Longhorns lose county sack leader Dillon Alexander, First Team All-County lineman Trey LeBlanc (six sacks) and defensive tackle Jake Chickowski. Daniel said senior defensive lineman Theiss Sagues should help mitigate those losses.
Adison Schimmelpfennig (Sr., 5-11) led the county in tackles last season with 108 and returns to marshal the middle of Lambert’s linebacker corps. Chad Conner (Sr.), a defensive back and outside linebacker, plays a crucial role for the Longhorns defense.
"He’s our adjuster. Chad’s vital in helping us get lined up correctly," Daniel said.
Tanner Hall handles placekicking and kickoff duties in addition to his responsibilities on offense. Patrick Noble and sophomore Brian Wright could both see time at punter this season.