Lambert will likely enter the season as the youngest coach in the Central Buckeye Conference. He’ll have a coaching staff made up of several former Northwestern coaches and players, as well as several former teammates and coaches from West Jefferson.
“The doubts about my age are going to come,” he said. “I’ve expected those and I’m prepared for those. When it comes down to my job, it’s about carrying myself as I always have as a player and a coach and continuing to be successful in a profession I’ve always wanted to be in.”
The Northwestern football program has had three straight losing seasons since one of its biggest runs of success in 2018 and 2019. The Warriors qualified for the playoffs and won a share of their first-ever Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division title in 2018 under former coach Shane Carter. In 2019, the Warriors finished 6-4 and finished second in the Mad River Division. Since that time, the program is 4-26, going 0-10 in 2021 and 1-9 in 2022.
The key to turning the program around, Lambert said, will be getting the players to believe they can win football games.
“We’re definitely not short on athleticism or players to work with,” Lambert said. “I think Northwestern has a lot of good players. It’s going to be the coaching staff’s job to turn the culture around and make this a place where discipline, physicality and relentless effort is what we’re known for. It’s a culture thing; it’s not necessarily a football thing.”
The Warriors will have a young roster again in 2023. They graduated eight seniors from last year’s squad and will return a strong group of underclassmen.
“Winning is an expectation for me,” Lambert said. “We’re going to teach these kids how to win, not just on the football field, but in life. I was fortunate enough to be able to turn things around at West Jefferson as a player and make it to a Final Four as a coach. Those experiences as a player and as a coach, being around excellence my entire playing career, we’re going to be able to bring that to Northwestern and show these kids how to be winners, not just on the football field, but in life as well.”