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West Ranch's Jake Lambirth: The separation line

D-lineman Lambirth wants to leave a mark

Posted: August 22, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 22, 2012 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch senior lineman Jake Lambirth has goals of playing football at the NCAA Division I level.

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The Foothill League is known for a few things, not the least of which is talent at the skill positions.

Plenty of stories can be told about quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs heading to play NCAA Division I college football.

But West Ranch defensive lineman Jake Lambirth thinks there’s some progress to be made when it comes to Foothill League tradition on the defensive line.

And the senior is determined to change that this season.

The 6-foot, 5-inch 260 pound senior isn’t big on individual goals, but there’s a couple things he would like to accomplish over the course of the next season: Being included in a conversation about the best defensive linemen to come out of the Foothill League is certainly one of them.

“When you think about it (the Foothill League) has had a lot of players go (NCAA) Division I, NFL, but it’s hard for me to think about how many players went Division IA as a defensive lineman,” he says. “And that’s definitely a goal is to get to that level as a defensive lineman.”

The 17-year-old has already received interest from nearly ever school in the Ivy League and attended camps at schools such as Brown, Pennsylvania and Yale over the summer.

He also has interest from a few NCAA Division I Bowl Subdivision teams, but, as a superstitious kind of guy, would rather not list them.

The young man, who towers over most at the Stevenson Ranch campus, has played tackle football for 10 years now, and says describing the role football has played in his life would be akin to describing the role his mother has played in his life: Basically, separating himself from the game is not an option.

But, it was nearly something he had to live without last season.

As a junior, he partially tore the meniscus in his knee after week 5 — which knee is another secret he won’t divulge.

That was just as he was beginning to feel 100 percent following being diagnosed with mononucleosis to start the season.

“It was really hard to go through that mentally, and the whole time I was like ‘I just have to try my best to get my name out there,’” Lambirth says. “And right as I was starting to get better, I tore my meniscus in week 5. I had a doctor tell me I was out for the season and that really put things in perspective for me — how important football was for me.”

Sitting out wasn’t an option.

Lambirth quickly received a second opinion. This time, the doctor said surgery could wait, and playing wouldn’t increase the severity of the injury.

So he played.

Then again, there wasn’t really an option not to.

“I played the last five games,” he says. “Which were the most important games of my life.”

Lambirth is the guy on every team that epitomizes the term “110 percent.”

He’s the guy who runs during walkthroughs, and can’t wait to put on his pads each and every day.

“He’s ferocious,” says fellow defensive lineman Andrew Eichten. “He doesn’t have an off switch. He’s got a great nose for the game and I always tell him at practice it’s like he teleports. He’s such a big guy, but he can get to the ball no matter where he is.”

This season, if there is an individual X-factor on the Wildcats, it’s Lambirth.

He possesses the size, skill and determination to single-handedly disrupt an opponent’s gameplan.

“Lambirth brings this extra gear, this extra level where he plays hard, plays hard, plays hard in practice, and then he somehow just has this brand new step that other people just don’t have, and makes plays that he’s not supposed to make in the sense of, ‘That guy’s not supposed to chase that down, we have nothing to stop him,’” says West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien.

Because of that determination, expectations are sky high for the defensive lineman.

And this season, he’s ready to prove he’s the real deal.

“Last year and the year before, I didn’t make all league,” Lambirth says. “I felt that I left it up, kind of like a boxing match, I left it up to the judges. This year there’s going to be no judges. I’m going to knock ’em out. It’s going to be undisputed this year.”

That’s exactly what the Wildcats will need out of Lambirth if the defense is going to rise to the occasion.

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