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Football: Lambert sports tough, experienced offensive line heading into 2021
Lambert running back Harrison Peyton, left, and wide receiver Kojo Antwi hope to lead a balanced offense, while also starting in the Longhorns’ defensive backfield. - photo by Jacob Smith

2021 Schedule

Aug. 20 – Centennial at Lambert

Aug. 27 – Lambert at Lassiter

Sept. 3 – Lambert at Meadowcreek

Sept. 10 – Duluth at Lambert

Sept. 16 – South Forsyth at Lambert

Sept. 23 – BYE

Oct. 1 – Gainesville at Lambert

Oct. 8 – Lambert at Denmark

Oct. 15 – North Forsyth at Lambert

Oct. 22 – Lambert at Forsyth Central

Oct. 29 – Lambert at West Forsyth

Nov. 5 – BYE

Lambert didn’t wait long to start preparing for the 2021 season.

The Longhorns finished 5-5 – their best mark since 2016 – but head coach Tommy Watson didn’t spend any time celebrating.

“We basically started a week after we played West Forsyth in November and started our offseason program,” Watson said. “I'll tell you what we did. I've got a strength coach at Lambert that I brought with me from Lowndes. I told Coach [Curtis] Mattair, I said, 'Look here. We're finna to pick this weight room up and we're gonna dump it on top of them. The ones that come out are gonna be Longhorns.”

2020 Results

5-5 Overall, 1-5 Region 6-7A

Lambert 34, Campbell 9

Lambert 34, Lassiter 19

Lambert 38, Meadowcreek 20

Lambert 26, Duluth 10

South Forsyth 44, Lambert 14

Gainesville 42, Lambert 35

Denmark 52, Lambert 14

North Forsyth 34, Lambert 20

Lambert 43, Forsyth Central 42

West Forsyth 42, Lambert 27

Watson is quick to point to the offensive line as the biggest benefactor.

“The position I am most excited about compared to last year is our offensive line,” Watson said. “We were really underdeveloped and undercoached there in my opinion. Our offensive line coach has been working those guys since January. I think when we take the field this year, people are going to say, 'Man, what did them guys do to get better?' I'm really excited to see what those guys do this year.”

The Longhorns are anchored at tackle by senior Grayson Mains [6-foot-5, 265 pounds], a three-star prospect who is committed to South Carolina.

Joining Mains are players such as Chap Cunningham, Elijah Haughawout and Kyle Cunningham.

Haughawout played defensive end last season and also lined up at offensive tackle down the stretch.

“He’s another guy that if you look at on film from last year to now, he don’t even look like the same person,” Watson said. “His weight room numbers have shot through the roof. I think the last time we maxed, he was 285, 290 on cleans. He’s a very athletic big man. I think he’s going to play college football, probably on the offensive line. On the defensive line, he’s going to be hard to block for sure.”

Trophy Case 

First varsity season: 2010 

Playoff appearances: 6 (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) 

Region titles: 1 (2016) 

State titles: 0

That time in the weight room also benefitted wide receiver Kojo Antwi [44 catches, 795 yards, 9 TDs], who committed during the offseason to play football at Ohio State.

Antwi is listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds and will also play cornerback for the Longhorns.

“To look at Kojo today compared to the first time I ever met him, he don’t look like the same person,” Watson said. “I think when I first met him, he was a 240-pound cleaner in the weight room. I think his last batch was 285. You see him without a shirt on and he just looks like a different dude. He’s a great kid, great football player, and we’re expecting great things from him.”

Getting Antwi the football will be the responsibility of either Ashton Smith, James Tyre or Levi Watson.

Smith [90-for-176 passing, 1,468 yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs] and Tyre [47-for-71 passing, 687 yards, 10 TDs, 1 INT] split time at quarterback last season, but Watson said the job is still up for grabs.

“I feel like we’ve got three quarterbacks we can win with,” he said. “We’re in the middle of a three-way battle for who’s going to be the starter … I’m going to play a quarterback who is tough, who is trustworthy and who takes care of the football. Whichever one, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to play the one who has those traits.”

Harrison Peyton figures to take the majority of carries at running back after moving to the position halfway through the season last year.

"The region has no idea who that cat is right there,” Watson said. “He got hurt against Gainesville. I moved him to safety when I first got there; he was a linebacker. After the South Forsyth game we felt we needed a change, so we put him at running back. In the Gainesville game, when he broke his leg, it was the first series of the fourth quarter. He had 18 carries for 162 yards and had two 40-yarders called back for holding calls. The region's about to find out who that cat right there is. I promise you.”

Peyton, who has offers from Georgia State, Air Force, Army and Lehigh, said he’s fully healthy now and looks forward to turning heads during his senior season.

"It's been good. I'm just glad to be back," Peyton said. "It was a really long process. It took a long time to heal, but I'm 100 percent now, and as Coach Watson said, 'Y'all about to find out who I am.'"

Harrison will also patrol the defensive backfield along with Darren Guy, who played outside linebacker last season but made the switch during the offseason to safety.

Guy led the Longhorns in tackles last year with 92, adding 9 ½ tackles for loss and 2 ½ sacks.

Lambert’s linebacking corps figures to be a strength heading into the season, with returning starters such as Jake Johnson [50 tackles], Dawson Miller [74 tackles] and Brennan Schneider.

Both Johnson and Schneider figure to see time on offense at tight end, along with 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior Luke Logan, a transfer from Northview.

“He’s a big, tall athletic kid who can run. He plays baseball as well,” Watson said. “He’s going to raise some eyebrows in this region for us, too.