Tim Lambert is returning to his second home.
Lambert, who apprenticed at Bethany College under Hall of Fame coach Ted Kessinger after a stellar high school career under legendary coach Roger Barta at Smith Center, is looking forward to taking over as Smoky Valley football coach, replacing Chris Hattabaugh. Hattabaugh is going to Elkhart, where he will be the high school principal.
Lambert and his wife are both 1991 Bethany College graduates, so it will be like a homecoming.
“We are going to Smoky because we like the town and the people,” said Lambert, who has spent the past six years at Concordia High School. “I got a sense that they really want what I have to offer, that we were on the same page as far as to the value of high school athletics and especially football in the development of young men.”
Lambert certainly has the pedigree. In his 22 years (six at Concordia, 16 at St. Francis), his teams are 167-71 and have had only three losing seasons. His St. Francis teams made the state semifinals on six occasions. His Concordia team made the Elite Eight in 4A Division II this past season. The Panthers have won eight games in four the last five years.
His teams have won six league championships and four district championships.
The 46-year-old Lambert has employed many of the attributes he learned while playing for Kessinger during the Swede glory days when they ruled the KCAC.
“Coach K taught me that football was about life,” Lambert said. “He really believed it and he made a believer out of me. He greatly influenced my philosophy of football.”
The Vikings were 5-5 this past season and a playoff team under Hattabaugh despite losing several players to injuries. The most devastating were to Jarod DeMott and Brix Brickey, both of whom were All-State caliber but never played a down all season. He admits he hasn’t had a chance to evaluate the talent yet, but Smoky Valley has produced some outstanding players in recent years.
“Our goal is to be simply the best we can be,” he said.
Lambert’s older brother, Andy, has been one of the KCAC’s most successful coaches over the past decade at Sterling College. If you ask anyone in the know in the KCAC, they’ll tell you Lambert’s Warrior teams are generally the most prepared team in the conference.
Lambert will serve as a physical education instructor in the school district.