Lambert’s football team was a picture of transformation last season. The Longhorns were 1-3 after its first loss ever to rival South Forsyth on Sept. 20, the worst start in school history. They were plagued by turnovers and inconsistent on offense, portending a second straight season out of the state playoffs.
Within those travails was a bevy of youth at the most critical skill positions with sophomore first-year starters at quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Longhorns offensive coordinator Louis Daniel tinkered and adapted, the defense emerged as a formidable unit and Lambert won five of its last six regular season games to make the playoffs and host a first round game.
Now Daniel will undergo his own transformation.
Lambert announced Daniel as the school’s new head football coach Friday morning to replace Sid Maxwell, pending approval by the Board of Education at its next meeting on April 17.
Daniel had been Maxwell’s offensive coordinator since the school opened in 2009 and worked previously with Maxwell at Sequoyah as an assistant coach from 2000-09.
“Coach Maxwell built a great staff and got this program off to a phenomenal start,” Daniel said in a press release. “Keeping the coaching staff intact will help us to carry on the tradition of winning here at Lambert.”
Under Maxwell, Lambert quickly became a fixture in the state playoffs with appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2013. He went 27-16 in four varsity seasons after a 97-57 stint in 15 seasons at Sequoyah.
Maxwell resigned last month to spend more time with his family, according to Lambert athletic director Drew Ferrer, after guiding the Longhorns to a 6-5 season that ended with a 35-16 loss to Brookwood in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
Defense was certainly Lambert’s strength during Maxwell’s tenure, but Daniel managed to improve the offense last season despite youth at critical positions. Quarterback Tucker Maxwell, running back Kameron Pickett and wide receiver Tanner Hall were all sophomores and first-year starters who gradually developed as the season went on.
With its playoff hopes at stake, Lambert scored 41 and 33 points against Chattahoochee and West Forsyth, respectively, in its final regular season games.
“From the first game to the last game, I think we got a lot better,” Ferrer said. “I think it’s very positive thing when you have so many kids coming back.”
Daniel’s promotion also affords Lambert the comfort of a smooth transition. The Longhorns won’t hold spring practice, opting instead to play two scrimmages in the fall. That could have made bringing in a new coach with a new offense, defense and personality difficult on players.
Ferrer said Daniel impressed the school’s hiring committee with his plans to balance continuity with modernization.
“I think the things that we’ve done well [Daniel is] going to continue to use that model,” Ferrer said, “and I think the things that he felt that we could be better at he’s going to aggressively go after trying to improve upon.
“I think that he definitely wants to prove that he can come into his own, be his own person, and at the same time I think he’s very appreciative of the foundation he’s been given with Coach Maxwell.”