The rivalry between Lambert and South Forsyth is less than nine years old, but it already has ample nuance and history. There’s friendliness and camaraderie, given that many of the school’s athletes have grown up together and played together in rec ball or on travel teams, but also a definite edge, given how Lambert took a big chunk of South’s enrollment and then proceeded to have more success than the War Eagles had been able to amass. The Longhorns are villains to lots of teams, but with South, it’s a particularly close subject.
The biggest matchup between the schools will happen Saturday, when the Longhorns and War Eagles’ boys soccer teams face off in the Class 7A state championship at 7:30 p.m. at McEachern High School. And barring a complete blowout – unlikely, given that the teams split their regular season matchups this season – it will be the most hyped and dramatic meeting between the schools ever, the first time they, or any two Forsyth County schools, have ever met in a state championship matchup.
It won’t be the first heated and dramatic meeting between the schools, of course. Here’s a look back at the most significant Lambert-South matchups of the past, in both the regular season and the playoffs.
Football: Lambert 10, South 0, Sept. 17, 2010
The Longhorns and War Eagles’ have both gone through highs and lows on the gridiron during the schools’ coexistence. South is probably ahead right now, with the War Eagles coming off a region championship and undefeated (in regulation) regular season, while the Longhorns just went 3-7, but Lambert has the 2016 region championship to its name and could easily burst back into prominence.
The Longhorns started out on top, though, in this defense-first grind. The connection between the schools was particularly close back then, as many of Lambert’s players had worn the opposing helmet in the past. It was the start of a quality first varsity season for the Sid Maxwell-led squad: the Longhorns wound up finishing 9-3 that year and going out to Hiram in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs.
Football: South 31, Lambert 6, Nov. 6, 2015
That season was an exceptional one for Forsyth County football teams, as the War Eagles, Longhorns and West Forsyth comprised the top three teams in Region 6 of Class 6A, which stood at a pre-Class 7A size of 10 teams. And heading into the final region game, the Longhorns were 8-0 to South’s 7-1, having beaten the Wolverines, whom the War Eagles lost to.
The results against West turned out to be mostly irrelevant, though, as the War Eagles went out and drilled the Longhorns. South had dynamic players all over its offense that year, and Davis Shanley, Sam Outlaw and Jalen Camp, all currently playing for Division I programs, each figured strongly into the outcome. The War Eagles wound up making the state quarterfinals that year, where they lost to Colquitt County.
Volleyball: South 3, Lambert 2, Oct. 6, 2016
Before North claimed its spot among the states’ elites this year, the Longhorns and War Eagles basically ruled the county’s volleyball scene. This matchup in the area championship saw South take three straight sets after being down 2-1, and the match also came day after the schools had faced off earlier in the tournament. Both teams went out in the second round of the state playoffs that year, but 2017 restored a bit more luster to the county’s high school volleyball scene, as the Longhorns and War Eagles both made it to the state quarterfinals, as did North.
Softball: South 2, Lambert 1, Oct. 28, 2016
The biggest softball story from the county that season was the Longhorns’ 15-0 run through the region schedule, led by the slugging of Marissa Guimbarda and the pitching mastery of Kassidy Krupit, but the Longhorns certainly didn’t dominate the War Eagles along the way. The three wins came by margins of 2-0, 1-0 and 5-4, and when the teams met in elimination game in Columbus, the War Eagles would finally have their way, winning 2-1 on a walk-off. South flipped the region standings in 2017, claiming the No. 1 seed while Lambert took No. 2, but it was the Longhorns who got back to Columbus.
Track and field: South girls 157, Lambert 156, April 19, 2017
Girls track has been one of the War Eagles’ strong points in recent years, with a strong crop of distance runners – not typically a requirement for track team championships – boosting South’s sprinters and jumpers. Lambert hasn’t been far behind, though, and the Region 5-7A championship at Milton last year literally came down to the War Eagles’ last runner in its last race. South’s Karen Huynh, running on the War Eagles’ B team in the 4x400 meter relay, started her anchor leg in fifth place, but she passed West’s anchor down the back stretch to nab the extra point that South needed to avoid a tie.