ALPHARETTA – Lambert started its 2016 season against a familiar foe and in a familiar position – looking to replace key starters and discover its offensive identity.
The Longhorns got only a hint of answers for both in their 7-7 tie at Alpharetta on Friday in a scrimmage.
The expected rust of a scrimmage game showed – dropped passes, poorly-timed penalties and offensive sluggishness – of a team replacing its entire offensive line and numerous other starters on both sides of the ball. Lambert scored on its first drive of the game, and threatened to score again just once more.
But the Longhorns also showed promise on defense, particularly in the secondary, and flashed some big-play capability on offense with quarterback Richie Kenney and converted receiver Bobby Gabriel.
Indeed, last year’s 8-3 playoff team that competed for a region championship is in the past.
“This is a new team,” Daniel said. “This is their team.”
Though Lambert enters a new region this season, the Longhorns chose an old opponent to prepare against Friday. Lambert competed against the Raiders in Region 6-6A the past four seasons, going 1-3 against them, and it was last season’s 17-14 victory against Alpharetta in the Longhorns’ fourth game of the season – their first ever against the Raiders – that seemed to cement their confidence.
Lambert looked confident from its first possession Friday. The Longhorns drove 70 yards in just 2 minutes 22 seconds with a 17-yard touchdown throw from Kenney to Gabriel to take an early 7-0 lead.
Kenney finished 9 of 24 for 152 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Gabriel had four catches for 68 yards and the touchdown.
Meanwhile, Lambert’s defense had to contend with Alpharetta’s four-star receiver Carlos Carriere, who is verbally committed to Maryland. But the Longhorns shut him down. Lambert’s secondary of Marcus Chatelain, Tyler Ray and others held Carriere to no catches. Their only blemish was a touchdown pass from Alpharetta quarterback Matthew Drowning junior Marcus Hill as time expired in the first quarter.
The action all but ended there after both teams inserted backups into the game after halftime.
There was the potential for more. Alpharetta had a 47-yard touchdown called back on a holding penalty. Lambert had a promising drive of 69 yards spoiled by a fumble at the 1-yard line.
But the game slowed down from there, both teams leaving with plenty more to work on going into their regular season openers. Lambert begins its season August 26 at Mountain View.