LINDSBORG — If there was an award for McPherson area football coach of the year, it would be hard to top Smoky Valley’s Tim Lambert.
In just his second year, Lambert has taken a young football team that was only 2-7 last season and reversed its fortunes as the Vikings were 7-2 and won their district to earn the right to host Nickerson on Friday at Anderson Field.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The Vikings are riding a wave of momentum as they have won four in a row and pulled off what many considered to be an upset last week when they outlasted Clay Center 30-28 in overtime. The Vikings scored late in the game to get it tied before winning it in OT, scoring first and adding a 2-pointer before the Tigers scored and were thwarted on the 2-pointer.
Smoky had nipped Rock Creek 36-29 in its first district game, while Clay Center was a 45-0 winner over the Mustangs.
Lambert’s ball-control offense has been wearing teams down. Kyle Anderson has pounded out 1,195 yards, while Riley Odell has 758. Quarterback Brett Heitschmidt adds 371 and is also a good thrower, though he doesn’t put the ball in the air much. All three players are juniors, which makes the future even more exciting.
For the present, the Vikings have to deal with a 6-3 Nickerson team that also has experienced a renaissance under former Inman coach Mike Vernon. The Bethany College graduate (Lambert is as well) seems to win wherever he goes and he’s very familiar with Anderson Field having compiled a legendary career as a Swede.
The common opponent that jumps off the page is Hesston. The Panthers defeated the Swathers 36-27, while the Vikings lost to Hesston 35-0. But both games were light-years ago and both have improved greatly.
The Panthers’ losses are to Pratt, Hoisington and Wichita Collegiate. Nickerson gave Collegiate a terrific battle before losing, 20-18.
The winner of this game will take on either Pratt or Colby, which meet on Friday in Pratt.