Lambert’s first two varsity football seasons have been carbon copies of one another, each ending with a trip to the state playoffs and an 8-3 record.
The challenge for the Longhorns this season is to advance past the first round of the postseason for the first time, despite moving from Class 4A to the new Class 6A.
The Longhorns were out at 6 a.m. for spring practice last month since the school’s boys soccer and lacrosse teams were still practicing in the afternoons during their state championship runs. The early start times worked just fine for head football coach Sid Maxwell, who always sticks to the basics this time of year.
"I’m very simple-minded," Maxwell said.
"You can’t do a whole lot in the spring. You have to have a plan.
"You have to get the guys physically and mentally ready to go. The main focus is to practice and become fundamentally sound and to work hard."
Playing fundamentally sound football was a problem for the Longhorns at times during the 2011 season. Lambert turned the ball over seven times in its first loss of the season against Johns Creek. During a 16-0 loss to Rome later in the season, the Longhorns turned the ball over on three consecutive offensive plays.
"Every year is different, so I don’t dwell on things of the past," Maxwell said.
"I always teach [carrying the ball] high and tight. Option football is an offense sometimes where the ball will get on the ground.
"We just have to make sure that our players maintain the ball."
The Longhorns outscored their opponents 290-178 running the Wing-T offense last season. Three-year starting quarterback David Broadus graduated this spring, leaving Maxwell’s son, rising senior Brock Maxwell, to lead the attack.
The speedy Brock Maxwell was a triple threat last season, alternating between running back, quarterback and wide receiver.
After missing the final few weeks of the 2011 regular season due to injury, Brock Maxwell returned to produce 203 all-purpose yards in the Longhorns’ 35-32 loss to Clarke Central in the opening round of the playoffs.
Rising senior running back Daniel Myers will also continue to receive lots of work. Myers made the All-County team last season after finishing with 1,023 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
"Our offense is built around making first downs," Sid Maxwell said. "If you get enough first downs, you score points and win games."
The 2012 season will mark the third in which the Longhorns have competed at the varsity level and will showcase the first senior class that has attended Lambert all four years.
The Longhorns lost five players on offense and seven players on defense to graduation this spring. Even though some Lambert players will have little game experience, Maxwell said the players moving up are talented and have a strong work ethic.
"We had some kids last year who were at the water fountain more than they were in the weight room," Maxwell said.
"Now we have kids who are stepping up and want to get better. They’re pushing us forward."
The defense will be called upon to lead the Longhorns again. The unit held opponents to seven points or less in 12 of the program’s first 16 varsity games before injuries took their toll late last season.
A depleted Lambert defensive unit allowed an average of 21.5 points over the final six games last season.
Coach Maxwell said rising senior linebacker Russell Monyette and rising senior defensive back Danny Edgeworth will anchor the defense.
"Those young men have great leadership qualities," Maxwell said. "They are the heart of our team; I expect them to lead us.
"We were fortunate to have success the last couple of years, and the expectations have grown. We have to maintain our focus to prepare our way for the fall season."