La Cañada High football turns to Lambert for revival

Somewhere close to the intersection of poise and passion, youthfulness and experience is what La Cañada High officials believe they have in Ramsey Lambert.

The 31-year-old Hesperia resident was officially hired as the football program’s new head coach as was announced by the school Wednesday morning.

Lambert, who was born in Hawaii and who graduated from the University of Hawaii, takes over for two-year coach James Sims, whose contract was not renewed in late November.

“I was informed last night after the [La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board Meeting] and it was official this morning,” said Lambert, who will also teach physical education and health full-time on campus. “I’m real excited.

“Initially, it was the community that had me sold, but after watching some film, I saw a lot promise with the kids, particularly the younger ones. To be able to succeed at a school with such high academic expectations calls for a certain type of student and I look forward to working with these young men.”

Lambert arrives at La Cañada after a two-year coaching stint at Oak Hills High in Hesperia under coach Robert Kistner.

“I knew when we first hired Ramsey that he wasn’t going to be here long,” Kistner said. “He’s a talented coordinator who has a great grasp of the game. I knew it was just a matter of time before he would become a head coach.”

Lambert was a defensive backs coach in 2012 before taking over the reins as Oak Hills’ offensive coordinator in 2013.

In two years at Oak Hills, the Bulldogs combined for a 20-4 record, two runner-up efforts within the Mojave League, which participates in the Eastern Division, and a 2-2 postseason mark.

In his lone year as offensive coordinator, Oak Hills thrived under his up-tempo shotgun spread offense and scored 40 or more points in nine of 12 contests.

“We ran an explosive offense in which any one of five players who touched the ball had the ability to score,” said Lambert, who played quarterback and cornerback at Hesperia High. “We were a quick team.”

That type of lightning offense was particularly appealing.

“I really believe that coach Lambert has the ability to take this program to the next level,” La Cañada High athletic director Craig Franzen said. “He’s a young guy who brings a lot of excitement and passion to his job and we hope he’ll have a team that will generate a lot of excitement in the community.”

The Spartans finished 5-6 last season, but took third place in the Rio Hondo League and advanced to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

Since 2006, the last year the Spartans posted a winning record, the program has languished under three coaches in producing a combined mark of 20-38-3.

Yet, those number don’t intimidate Lambert, who is perhaps proudest of his 2011 Silverado High football team, which he served as defensive coordinator.

That season the Hawks opened the year with a demoralizing 52-0 loss versus Southern Section powerhouse Rancho Cucamonga en route to a winless nonleague portion of the season as Silverado was 0-5.

“I was hired a month before the season and that was my welcome gift – a game against Rancho Cucamonga 28 days later,” Lambert quipped. “I learned a lot that season. We had some players who quit on us, but the majority of the team kept working, we improved and we won league.

“The values of hard work that we instilled on that team have stayed with me and will be a part of this La Cañada squad, I can tell you that.”

Silverado rebounded during Desert Sky League play and went undefeated in capturing a league championship and eventually reaching the quarterfinals of the Eastern Division playoffs.

On the path to the second round, Silverado defeated Oak Hills in a 16-7 first-round victory that stuck with Kistner and played a big role in Lambert’s arrival at Oak Hills.

“If you’re looking for someone to turn around a program, then Ramsey Lambert is your guy,” Kistner said. “He has that ability and capability. La Cañada made a great hire and they’ll really appreciate what kind of person Ramsey is.”

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World