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Lambert's Warrior leader

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By Robert Howey

INDIAN LAND – Ask Indian Land High School football coach Mike Mayer who the best leader on the Warriors’ team is and he will answer in rapid fashion.“That’s Luke Lambert,” said Mayer of the 5-11, 155-pound senior defensive back-receiver. “He displays class and character on the field and in the classroom. He is a model student-athlete.”Lambert’s stats on and off the field are proof solidifying Mayer’s claim.No. 11 in the Indian Land High Class of 2009, Lambert, a Junior Marshall last spring, has a 4.37 grade point average. He’s already been accepted at Clemson.He’s a two-time all-region player in soccer and earned Warriors’ MVP honors last spring. He’s hoping to play college soccer, but that’s down the road in Tigertown.Lambert’s main concern is the Warriors’ football season, which received a major boost a week ago when IL downed Blacksburg 24-14. The 10-point win was only the Warriors’ fourth dating back over the last two seasons.A three-year member of the IL varsity football team, Lambert was a freshman playing on the junior varsity team when the Warriors fashioned a school-record 11-2 mark and were a game shy of a first-ever state title game appearance.“That team was impressive,” Lambert said. “I really looked up to those guys. They had a great work ethic and I liked the way they played together.”After back-to-back seasons of 2-8 and 1-9, Lambert is bidding for better days for the Warriors.“We have the potential and we’re bigger and stronger this season because our work in the weight room over the summer made a difference,” Lambert said. “I think we’ve grown a lot. All of the seniors have waited for this year and we don’t want it to be like the last two years. We just have to get it in our heads that we can win.”Lambert, in the Warriors’ win over Blacksburg, saw a new attitude.Indian Land led 16-6 at the half, but the Wildcats rallied to make it 16-14.“When Blacksburg came back to within two points, we were fighting just as hard,” he said. “I think that win will help our team confidence.”Lambert, the team’s Most Hustle Award recipient last fall when he had four interceptions and 59 tackles, did his share last week, picking off three passes to go with three tackles and an 86 percent defensive grade.“I try to motivate the team,” he said. “My responsibility is to keep the guys together and motivated.”The Warriors face a challenge tonight, hosting unbeaten Central, which has outscored its two foes 63-14.“We have to step it up again because Central runs the ball well,” he said. “They pound the ball, so we have to defend the run well.”A highlight tonight is the dedication of the stadium by the Catawba Indians as “The Reservation.”“It will be a respect and pride thing,” Lambert said. “I think it’s a great idea. This lets people know what Indian Land is about.”Mayer said Lambert, in similar fashion, exemplifies Warriors’ football.“Luke’s what we want in a player,” Mayer said. “He gives you 100 percent whether it’s a game, practice or schoolwork. I like the example he sets for our team.”