In the Lambert football team's season-opening loss on Friday night to Mountain View, the Longhorns' effort was not the problem.
"You guys competed your tails off, and I'm proud of y'all," Lambert head coach Louis Daniel said as he addressed the team on the field after the game.
The 31-13 loss the Longhorns took wasn't ideal, but it wasn't disastrous, either, in the eyes of their head coach. The Bears beat Lambert last year, and by Daniel's evaluation, Mountain View lost less to graduation than the Longhorns did. He also took into consideration that the Bears already had played an official game, while Lambert only had two quarters of a scrimmage to its name.
"Going into the year, you don't really quite know how the young guys are going to respond," Daniel said. "But I did know that (Mountain View) was a seasoned team."
The game's early minutes were encouraging for Lambert. A long kickoff return by Steven Majors was followed by a deliberate drive from the Longhorns' offense, with a combination of Marcus Chatelain runs and Alex Snyder receptions bringing Lambert into the red zone.
A delay of game penalty pushed Lambert back from the six-yard line on third-and-goal, though, and a fumbled snap on the Longhorns' field goal try resulted in a turnover on downs.
Lambert made it deep into Mountain View territory three more times in the half. The Longhorns got as far as the eight-yard line on their third possession, but after two incomplete passes from Bobby Gabriel, they had to settle for a field goal. Their next series reached the 20-yard line, but the Bears' Jayden Patterson snagged an interception on second down.
The Longhorns' first and only touchdown of the game came on their last drive of the half. On a second down at the 20-yard line, Gabriel heaved a throw to the end zone, and while Mountain View had a defender under it, the ball bounced off his hands and into those of Lambert's Jakob Unhoch, who was in the back of the end zone.
"I felt confident with him there," Chatelain said of the Longhorns' offense with Gabriel. "We drove on them multiple times, just didn't finish."
All the while, though, Mountain View was cutting up Lambert's defense with a strong passing attack. The Bears moved quickly into Longhorns territory on their first possession when Tommy Stewart took a pass 55 yards down the right sideline. Three plays later, Malachi Carter scored on a 16-yard reception.
Two quick strikes on the Bears' next possession put them at Lambert's one-yard line, and C.J. Stiff punched a touchdown in on the next play. Mountain View faced a 2nd-and-20 on its next drive, but quarterback Matthew Edwards hit Keelan Marion for a 22-yard catch and then Stewart on a 13-yard touchdown the next play. The Bears led 21-10 entering halftime.
The second half was much less eventful. While the Bears (2-0) struck for a touchdown just four plays into the half, both teams only managed field goals the rest of the way.
Lambert (0-1) did have to deal with multiple hits to its secondary in the game. Safety Jeff Benjamin limped off the field early in the second half and didn't return, which Daniel said was the result of a tweaked hamstring.
Cornerback Kenneth Dicks III, a Wake Forest commit, didn't return to either the field or sideline in the second half. Daniel didn't offer insight into the situation with Dicks: He said it wasn't an injury, and when asked if there was a disciplinary issue, Daniel replied, "Not on our end."
"I have no clue," Daniel said of Dicks' status going forward.
The non-region nature of the game meant the stakes were lower for the Longhorns and their bid to repeat as region champions. They have issues to fix -- notably some with personnel and positioning that contributed to two delay of game penalties in opposing territory -- but time to do it.
And Daniel certainly knows more now than he did before Friday.
"The kids played hard," Daniel said. "I'm happy with them. There were times when I didn't quite know, but they fought, resiliently."