CANTON – Preseason games aren't about the final score. Rather, they're an opportunity to squeeze in as many players and scenarios as possible—they're a perfect playground for experimentation, inclusion and lesson-learning.
When the clock hit zero on Friday night at Creekview High School, Lambert head coach Louis Daniel couldn't have been more pleased with how the night went. There was good. There was bad, but it was all to be expected in the team's first go against another opponent.
The Longhorns clicked early and had to face adversity late in what turned out to be, technically, a 22-21 final in favor of the visitors. However, the score only stayed on Lambert's side in the final moments because Creekview head coach Terry Crowder bypassed a timeout that would have given the Grizzlies a chip-shot field goal as time expired.
Brett Davis scored a fourth quarter touchdown from 29 yards out and Bobby Gabriel, battling for the starting quarterback job, converted a fake field goal to give Lambert the 1-point lead, but, much like most of the second half, the Longhorns backup defense was on its heels.
Daniel said the defense is still a work in progress.
“They've got some work to do, but that's what these scrimmages are all about,” Daniel said.
A challenge for Lambert's first and second string defenders was trying to stop the passing game of veteran quarterback Kyle Wilkie. After Wilkie started 2-for-9, he began dropping bombs: touchdown passes of 42 and 16 yards to Trevor Kolb tied the game at 14-all, and a 36-yard strike moments later—one of many broken coverages—cost Lambert the lead, momentarily.
When asked about Wilkie playing late into the third quarter, Daniel felt like it was simply a great chance for his younger players to go against top competition. Wilkie was getting extended reps to work more with a heap of newer skill position players.
“We told our guys, there's no reason to worry about what coach Crowder was doing,” Daniel said. “That's his choice to keep his starters in for longer. We made our choices and needed to go do what we set out to do.”
Lambert brought fireworks early. Sophomore Ken Dicks invited himself into the lineup with a 35-yard touchdown scamper for the game's first score. Harrison Pomfret added nine carries for 38 yards as Lambert's offensive line spent much of its first few drives pancaking linebackers in the second level.
Dicks also saw considerable playing time at safety, and could emerge as a big time weapon.
“He's got some potential for sure, but so do our other guys. We did a lot of things early on really well,” Daniel said.
Richie Kenney's first pass was an interception, but he finished 6-of-9 for 83 yards. Gabriel's first pass was an interception as well, albeit off a tipped pass. Tight end Sam Fleming had receptions of 15 and 14 yards, as did starting receiver Tanner Hall.
The Longhorns defense also forced three fumbles and Hayden Gargosh had a second half interception.