Lambert quarterback James Tyre felt honored to learn he had been tabbed Forsyth County News Offensive Player of the Year. However, the senior immediately shifted credit away from himself and gave it to those who helped him reach such great heights during the 2022 season.
“It wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have these coaches and teammates surrounding me,” Tyre said. “They really played a huge role in me getting selected as offensive player of the year. I have to throw the ball to people. I have to have an offensive line to block for me. I have coaches that call the best play calls. It’s just a big thank you to them.”
Individually, Tyre — who is listed at 5-foot-10, 155 pounds — completed 139 of 229 passes for 2,064 yards and 21 touchdowns against six interceptions. On the ground, the dynamic two-sport star recorded 418 yards and eight additional scores.
Tyre, who also earned Region 6-7A Player of the Year selection, guided the Longhorns to their highest point total in school history.
This year's team averaged more than 35 points per game and finished with 422 points — 50 more than the 2016 squad, which was the only other Lambert side to reach the second round of the state playoffs.
“The coaching staff and chemistry we had as a team,” Tyre said of what allowed the Longhorns to put together such a strong season. “We had a bunch of seniors going into this year who were very close. Our leadership brought the team together.
“We might not have been the biggest team, but we always outplayed every single team. The new coaching staff we got played a huge role. That’s why we succeeded this year.”
Speaking of which, Lambert first-year head coach Marc Beach received coach of the year awards from the FCN and the region.
After serving two years as the team's offensive coordinator, Beach led the Longhorns to the best record in school history at 10-2, fulfilling what Tyre and his teammates envisioned when they lobbied for him to replace the departed Tommy Watson.
“We knew he was our guy,” Tyre said. “Since then, history has been made with the best record in Lambert history, and we did it because of coach Beach and this team.”
While Tyre admits that most people — even the strongest Lambert supporters — would have struggled to envision the program producing such a great season, he relished in getting to take the Longhorns to new heights.
“Me, personally, I thought we were going to go 10-0, because that’s just how I am,” Tyre said. “… If you asked anyone if we would go 10-2 this season, they would probably say, ‘No.’
“Our motto was ‘Expect to win’ and prove everybody wrong. That’s what we did each game.”
As Lambert reeled off nine straight victories to open the season, the scrutiny on the Longhorns and, by extension, Tyre only increased in intensity.
Once again, Tyre — who is among the county's top boys basketball players, as well — welcomed the spotlight.
“I loved it,” Tyre said. “I like controlling the offense, being that guy out there and leading everybody on the team. I just went out there to have fun.
“We went on a big winning streak, but one thing coach Beach told us was to never be satisfied. We went by that and had a good year.”
Despite falling to Milton in a de facto region title game in Week 12, Lambert bounced back to rout Wheeler, 45-14, in the first round of the state playoffs. It marked the program's second-ever postseason victory and first since 2016.
“It felt great,” Tyre said of the playoff win. “The whole team was hyped after the game. We went through the night all happy. We woke up the next day and started getting ready for our next opponent, because we weren’t satisfied.”
Even though Tyre and his Class of 2023 brethren weren't on the Longhorns varsity team that went winless their freshman season, they wanted to be able to turn things around.
It certainly wasn't an easy process. In 2020, Lambert finished .500, and last fall, the Longhorns wound up 7-4 and qualified for the postseason.
Thanks to Tyre (and those individuals he praises), the Class of 2026 will have a higher standard to meet.
“We still had to watch that and practice with an 0-10 team,” Tyre recalled. “It wasn’t very good to learn from that. We got three head coaches during our high school careers.
“We just stayed together as a senior class, grinded together and it paid off in the end, going 10-2.”