The one thing I will guarantee you is if you don’t have good players, and they’re not bought in, you can’t be successful on a consistent basis. —John Lambourne
SOUTH JORDAN — Friday’s rematch of the Week 2 game between East and Bingham — which Bingham won, 48-17 —will be Miner head coach John Lambourne’s second-straight state football championship game as head coach of Bingham, and he will be aiming for the Miners’ second-straight football title.
Lambourne, who took over the top job at Bingham in 2015, has overseen one of the most successful high school football programs in the state of Utah. Since his Miners’ loss to Lone Peak in the 2015 5A semifinals — Lambourne’s inaugural year as Bingham head coach — Bingham has not dropped a game since.
Lambourne first decided that he wanted to be a football coach from a young age, and then solidified that desire while attending the University of Utah.
“I think I had a little bit of coaching in my blood from the time I was actually pretty young, it just seemed like it was part of me. When I needed to make a decision about what I was going to do as a career, I thought that teaching and coaching kind of paralleled, being a student and an athlete, so it worked pretty good that way,” he said.
Lambourne has carried on the tradition of legendary Bingham head coach Dave Peck. Lambourne was on Peck’s staff at Bingham as an assistant for the 15 years that Peck was head coach, where Peck won five state championships.
“We learned a lot of things together along the way, but I will tell you this — Dave had a lot of passion for everything that he did, so he was a good example for all of us in that regard,” Lambourne said.
Peck’s retirement at the end of the 2014 season didn’t come as a surprise to Lambourne, and the transition from one coach to the other went off without a hitch.
“There wasn’t an initial reaction because we had conversations over the years and so there wasn’t any real surprise to me. Then, I had to make a decision about whether I wanted to take on that head job and all the responsibilities that go with it, and I decided at that point in my life, that I did,” Lambourne said. “That’s what I did, and it’s been great.”
Part of the reason the transition went so smooth is because Lambourne and Peck’s coaching styles aren’t too different.
“I don’t think it’s drastically different. We try to pay attention to detail and we try and do things right. We’re certainly not perfect, but, again, I would probably put more emphasis not on just me, but on our whole staff, our approach to the game and the work that we put into it hasn’t changed at all,” Lambourne said.
In a job where anything short of a state title is considered a letdown, and the Miners are consistently in the national rankings, Lambourne feels the pressure from time to time, but insists that it is a good thing.
“Yeah, sure, but we expect to do the very best that we can and so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, but that’s not a bad thing. Pressure is typically a good thing,” Lambourne said.
In Lambourne’s opinion, what makes the Miners so good, year in and year out, is the players.
“The one thing I will guarantee you is if you don’t have good players, and they’re not bought in, you can’t be successful on a consistent basis. I give the credit to the players and their abilities, but also that buy-in, which is maybe more important,” he said.
But all the success doesn’t come without its share of challenges, but the challenges make success even sweeter.
“When you’re dealing with, in our program, upwards of 160 football players that are young teenagers, trying to navigate through life and so forth, it’s not all about what goes on on the football field. It’s about merging what has to happen on the football field with what’s going on in their lives. Every coach faces those same type of challenges,” Lambourne said.
On Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Lambourne will have another chance to add another trophy to the shelf at Bingham, an opportunity he relishes.
“Yes, very excited. I think our whole program is excited and we ought to be. Any high school coach or any high school player that’s not excited to be in a state final game, there’s something wrong with them. We’re excited and it should be a fun week. We look forward to the opportunity,” Lambourne said.