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BREAKING: Lambert football coach Tommy Watson resigns after 2 seasons
Tommy Watson
Lambert football coach Tommy Watson talks with players and parents during a meeting at Lambert High School after accepting the head coaching job in 2020. - photo by David Roberts

Lambert football coach Tommy Watson is stepping down after two seasons with the Longhorns.

Watson, who compiled a 12-9 record in two seasons at Lambert, will accept the head coaching job at Harris County High School, about 30 minutes north of Columbus.

Watson informed players of his resignation Thursday morning.

"It was hard," Watson said. "I met with them at 7:50 this morning before school. I didn't get to say much, man, because honest to goodness I cried like a baby, because I do love them kids. Those kids have done everything that myself and my staff have asked them to do. It hurt. It was a tough decision."

Watson was hired Feb. 12, 2020 and led the Longhorns to their first playoff appearance in five years this fall. Lambert went 7-4 in 2021, finishing fourth in Region 6-7A before falling to eventual state champions Collins Hill in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, 56-13.

Watson is just the third head football coach in school history.

Lambert athletic director Drew Ferrer said he hopes to hire a replacement by spring break, which is April 4-10 for Forsyth County Schools.

"Coach Watson did an outstanding job with our community and with our program and leaves us in great shape," Ferrer said. "We're looking to put somebody in place probably by spring break would be a realistic goal. We have a long weekend this weekend, so when we get back, we'll open the job up and try to move forward with the next steps for the Lambert football program."

Watson, who graduated from Upson-Lee in Thomaston and was the Knights' head coach from 2008-13, said the move will allow him to be closer to family.

"It's been 10 years since me and my family could make a round trip to go visit our extended family," Watson said. "I was in south Georgia for six years and that was a five-hour round trip back home, and being up here is a five-hour round trip to back home. So we just decided we wanted to go home and let the family be able to watch our two kids play their sports and be involved in their lives."

Watson's arrival in Suwanee followed an 0-10 season in 2019 and three straight losing seasons. In 2020, the Longhorns won their first region game in three seasons when they beat Forsyth Central 43-42.

Lambert finished 3-3 in Region 6-7A play this past fall, earning wins against Central, Gainesville and North Forsyth to reach the Class 7A playoffs.

"I'm really proud of what we were able to accomplish at Lambert," Watson said. "It was my vision, but I can't take all the credit for it. The administration, Dr. [Gary] Davison, Coach Ferrer, the players, the community and the parents, everybody bought in to the plan I had and we built it day by day and step by step. I feel like we're definitely leaving it better than we found it. The future is bright for Lambert."

Lambert graduates 16 seniors, including five who have already signed National Letters of Intent: Kojo Antwi [Ohio State], Grayson Mains [South Carolina], Harrison Peyton [Georgia Tech], Elijah Haughawout [Army] and Brennan Schneider [Walsh University].

According to the Georgia High School Association bylaws, schools have from Feb. 1 until the end of the school year to host spring football practice, which consists of 10 practices spread across 13 consecutive school days.

Watson said he did not know whether any assistant coaches will remain on staff at Lambert.

"That question I do not know," he said. "This deal happened pretty fast with Harris County and me taking that job. I haven't really had a chance to sit down and inquire about what all of them are going to do, but I hope they do [stay at Lambert], because there are some really good coaches on that coaching staff I'm leaving behind. Who knows? Maybe one of them will get the job."

Harris County competes in Class 5A and finished 7-5 last season under Jamie Fox, who announced his retirement in January.

This story has been updated.