“It’s a humbling sport,” Lambert head football coach Louis Daniel observed at the 2018 Forsyth Sports Media Day.
Following the program’s most successful season in its school’s history in 2016, the Longhorns struggled to follow the campaign with similar results. Lambert dropped seven games on the season, but the real red mark came in region play.
They lost to North Forsyth for the first time in school history, dropped their games against West Forsyth and Milton and got blown out against their biggest rival South Forsyth. Lambert missed the state playoffs entirely and finished second to last in the region.
“Last year there were two or three games where you’re right there,” Daniel said, “and if those flip, you’re looking at 6-4.”
Heading into the new season, Lambert finds itself in a new position – an underdog. With the rosters of Milton and South Forsyth littered with big time recruits, the spotlight has shifted away from the Longhorns.
Lambert may not have the Division I talent that they have had in past years at big positions, but Daniel and the rest of the roster embraces that.
“What I love about this football team is that we don’t have that one position group,” he explained. “We don’t have this stable of running backs or this strong offensive line. We have a lot very good football players, and they’re competing.”
One position group that has been competing all spring has been the quarterbacks. After last season where no clear answer emerged, they knew to spawn the leader they needed it had to be by competition. Leading the pack so far has been junior Peyton Rich. Rich took over last season after Bobby Gabriel struggled to get the offense moving. In the six games he played in, Rich tallied 750 yards and two touchdowns. Other names vying for the spot have been sophomore Logan Wire and junior Ethan Thibodeaux, who both got reps in the spring game.
A staple of the Lambert offense since its conception has been a strong running game. The talent that has passed through the Lambert backfield has been impressive. One of those names was reigning FCN Offensive Player of the Year Marcus Chatelain.
Chatelain took over the bulk of the offensive duties last season, leading the county with 1,283 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Replacing Chatelain is one of the biggest tasks for Lambert this season. There has been some promise found in senior back Drew Docktor and a sophomore runner Zach Ogbogu.
Last season, the Longhorns looked at cornerback Ken Dicks III, a Wake Forest signee, to lead their defense. This season, they turn to Chris Taylor. Taylor plays multiple positions defensively. He can line up on the defensive line, but he spends a majority of his snaps at middle linebacker. As a junior, he racked up 68 total tackles, and he looks to build on that this season.
Another hole that Lambert has to sure up is place kicker. Bryce Christensen consistently delivered big time points over his career. He was automatic on extra points and could threaten on field goals from 45 yards. Replacing the reliability is going to be tough, but Daniel expressed confidence in “swiss-army knife” Drew Docktor to take over.
This year’s schedule for Lambert is challenging. They open the season playing five out of region opponents that have all established themselves as top football programs in the state. Their region play doesn’t let up either. They play rival South Forsyth at home to open region play before going to North Forsyth, West Forsyth and Milton in three consecutive weeks.If Lambert is going to emerge from the region, it’s going to have to answer a lot of questions and fill a lot of holes. But this underdog Longhorns team intends to re-establish itself not with one player, but as a whole.