BRINGING THE PAIN: Lomas, Williams believe Spartans are playoff contenders
East Ascension’s football program moves into its third year under the helm of head coach John Lambert and the focus for the Spartans this season is making the Class 5A playoffs.
“We want to be in the playoffs,” Lambert said. “How we get there we don’t care. These kids have put in so much work and spend so much time simply to give themselves that opportunity. For this football team I have in this locker room right here, their goal right now is to get to Week 11 and try to catch lighting in a bottle and run with it.”
Two players Lambert and the Spartans will rely heavily on this year to reach that goal are running back Avery Williams and linebacker Q’Dareus Lomas. Both had breakout seasons a year ago and have made changes both on the field and off to prepare for their senior campaign.
“For two guys who are seniors and know this is their last year, they have put everything they have into it,” Lambert said. “They have committed themselves to playing wherever we ask them to play and they want to be a part of every part of this program.”
East Ascension is coming off a 2-7 overall record last year going 1-4 in District 6-5A play. The Spartans have not been to the playoffs since rejoining the 5A ranks three years ago but have kept true to team’s slogan “We Believe.”
Williams, at 5-7, 200 pounds, was the Spartans’ leading rusher last season. The back, who bench presses 330 pounds and squats 700, will be the first option in East Ascension’s new veer offense.
“The thing that people underestimate about Avery is his commitment to the game,” Lambert said.
“He doesn’t pass the eyeball test at most colleges but I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised to see him in this offense. We want to gain three 1/2 yards a play and if we can do that, we will run all night. I think Avery Williams’ strength alone will allow him to do that. This is the best camp he has had since I have been here. He has been a changed soul this year. Avery always ran the football hard but it was a different young man that showed up and I think he is committed to making people believe in what he does.”
Lomas, 6-1, 200 pounds, transferred to East Ascension last season from Desire Street Academy and immediately made an impact from the moment he became eligible and stepped onto the field earning all-district honors at defensive end after registering 39 tackles, six for losses and 12 sacks.
He moves to inside linebacker for his senior season.
“He likes it with his hand up and he will make a big difference for us,” Lambert said. “Before, he was knocking people sideways with his hand down and a two-yard burst. Now you five him a five-yard run and “Q” is going to put a lick on you. He has been a great blessing to this program not just as a football player. He is a good person with a great heart and I really do think it means something to him when he is in the game. I think he gained a lot of confidence running track in the spring because when it is just you and the line, there is nobody to point a finger at. He really has bought into what we do in the weight room and he worked his tail off when he found out he was moving to linebacker.”
Both Williams and Lomas will be looked up to as leaders this year on a still relatively young East Ascension football team.
“We just have to come to the field and do our job,” Williams said. “You can’t have any clowning in the weight room on the practice field. Show up and stop talking because actions speak louder than words. Just put my heart into everything I do.
“I haven’t been to the playoffs since I have been here. I was a freshmen the last time we went, so I really wouldn’t know what it is like.
“You have to get everybody on the same page but they know what we have to do to go to the playoffs,” Lomas said. “They know what to expect and by staying focused we can get to Week 11.”
“When I first came here, it was a day after the team came from camp. It was a good experience to play with them guys last year even though we had an up and down season. I am originally from the area and have a lot of family here. I really came here to try and help bring EA back to the top and I feel real good about this year.”
Both believe in what Lambert has done to make the team and program better.
“This year, he changed the offense to suit us better,” Williams said. “He just wants us to be better and to go to Week 11.”
“Coach Lambert is Coach Lambert,” Lomas said. “He is a hard working coach and has all the players out here busting their tails. I give him a lot of credit. He is helping us get to the next level by making us be the best we can be.”
Williams was often the Spartans’ first option on offense last season and at times seemed like their only option regularly touching the ball more than 20 times per game.
“I want the ball a lot,” Williams said. “Every time I get the ball, all I am thinking about is touchdown, first down, yards. I can’t be stopped. That is what I think about every time I get the ball. When I am on the field, there is not one person that is going to tackle me. It is going to take three or four to get me down. I run hard and I am not scared of anybody. I am bringing the pain.”
Lomas quickly became known as a fierce tackler for the Spartans last season who also had a keen sense for the big play.
“I had a couple of big hits last year,” Lomas said. “One that stands out was against St. Amant. I saw it on T.V. and got really excited about it. I had to come in here and make myself known because I came from a pretty good team at Desire Street but switching from Class 1A to 5A was hard. I just showed the coaches that I could play and there is nothing like having fun on that Spartan field. I enjoy being here especially going into my senior year and the weight room has changed me a lot. You are going to see a lot of surprises this year.”
Williams said his father played for Assumption and Southern University and everyone in his family played football so it comes natural.
“It is just in me,” Williams said. “Football is my life. I just love the game. If I didn’t play football, I do not know what I would do. I live and breath it.”
“Every time I get the ball, I get an adrenaline rush and just want to run somebody over. I can’t even stop thinking about Friday nights. The crowd, noise, lights and EA has got to win.”
Lomas said the game took a while to grow on him.
“At first, I wasn’t really interested in football,” Lomas said. “My mom wanted me to play when I was younger but I didn’t want to. Then, somebody noticed my size so I started playing BREC. I gave football a chance and now I am loving putting pain on people. That is what I do. Game time is pain time to me. That is how I feel.
“When I first got eligible, I was a little nervous but just stepping onto that field with the lights shining upon you and the crowd so loud, it is just so amazing. There isn’t anything like being on that field on Friday nights.”