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Last Monday at the Mount Ayr Community School board meeting, Derek Lambert’s resignation as head football coach was accepted, just months after his co-head coach, Delwyn Showalter, announced his retirement from all MACS activities, leaving the Raider football team looking for its first head coach in 19 years.
Lambert, a Worth County High School graduate, began coaching as an assistant in 1997 under Mount Ayr Hall of Fame coach Dave Still. Coach Lambert stayed on after coach Still retired, assisting head coach Randy Athay from 1998 to 2000.
Delwyn Showalter and Derek Lambert became the programs first co-head coaches, to the skepticism of some, however, in their 19 years, Showalter and Lambert became the winningest coaches in Raider football history, passing legendary Raider coach Joe McNeill. Lambert and Showalter saw 135 wins in their 19 years, while McNeill had 131 from 1948-1971, though there wasn’t a State tournament during his tenure, in which coach Showalter believes coach McNeill would have a lot more wins.
Lambert helped coach the Raiders to 12 playoff appearances in his 19 years as co-head coach and three trips to the UNI-Dome.
The teams under Lambert and Showalter saw only one losing season, in 2017, when the team saw a 3-6 record before bouncing back to a 7-3 record. The two finished their final season with a 7-3 record as well where their season ended at South Central Calhoun in the state playoffs once again.
Under Lambert and Showalter, the Raiders saw the most points scored in a season, with 611 in 13 games, in 2014. The other five entries on that board were also coached by the duo.
Lambert helped the Raiders to two undefeated regular seasons in 2006 and 2012 along with four district and conference championships in 2006, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
After coach Showalter’s announcement, Lambert decided it was time to reflect on his own time as a Raider football coach.
“I have absolutely loved my time as a coach for the Raiders,” said coach Lambert. “I believe I have learned much more from the players over the years than they have learned from me. Raider football has consumed my life for 23 years.”
Lambert says he will miss the relationships made with players and other coaches.
“The relationships I’ve created with the coaches here and coaches I have competed against will be a couple things I will miss the most,” said Lambert. “I also truly enjoy the continued relationships with former players. Texts, calls and invites to weddings are so much fun to get from them.”
Coach Lambert has spent the last 23 falls prepping for games, watching film and conducting practice that he is looking forward to watching his daughter, Payten, play volleyball since the two sports coincide and he has not been able to catch a lot of her games, but that doesn’t mean he is absolutely finished coaching.
“I’m leaving it open to do some coaching in the future,” said Lambert. “Maybe even at a younger level.”