Lamborn dives into his sports with vigor
Appeal Sports Writer
Carson High School football coach Shane Quilling remembers having his doubts when he called up current senior running back/linebacker Travis Lamborn to his varsity squad two seasons ago.
“We were playing Reed,” Quilling recalled. “It was the first game Lamborn played here (in varsity) and Reed had the biggest line in the North. He was so tiny. We threw him into the fire and he survived. He probably shouldn’t have been playing, but he was our starting inside linebacker as a sophomore.”
Free safety Tony Roberts, Lamborn’s friend and teammate, was also a sophomore that year, seeing some time at quarterback on varsity. He said facing Reed, which averaged over 200 pounds a man across the offensive line, was an intimidating prospect.
“I was playing quarterback and running around with the big guys, scared,” Roberts said of his sophomore experience. “I took a look at Travis as a sophomore – he was about 5-8, 150 pounds when they pulled him up to varsity – and he was a middle linebacker against Reed, which was destroying and demolishing people.
“He didn’t get his head or legs ripped off. He didn’t go in there scared. He made tackles like in any other game. He’s not a big middle linebacker, but if anyone looks at him, you just say, ‘football.'”
Lamborn, now 5-foot-9, 175 pounds during football season (he has also wrestled at 160 for the Carson wrestling team), said he wasn’t scared, but you might say he had a healthy sense of awareness going into the game.
“I remember going into Coach’s office and he said, ‘We need more linebackers at varsity,'” Lamborn said. “I looked up at the schedule on the wall and it was Reed. Everyone on the line averaged 200 pounds a man. I was pretty nervous. Coach said, ‘I don’t expect anything from you. Just do what you do. Make some tackles.’ I had three or four tackles that first game. I had practiced one week or so at varsity. It was pretty big for me.”
THREE TIMES NOT A CHARM
The move to varsity also fulfilled a desire Lamborn first acquired when he’d go watch his older brother Brandon Lamborn – a 2000 CHS graduate – compete in sports for the Senators.
“He’s the reason I got into football and wrestling,” Lamborn said of Brandon, now 24. “I used to go watch him and I ended up in the same sports he did. I’d sit in the stands and there’d be cheers. I’d see him wrestling. My parents used to tell me a story all the time that I said, ‘I’m going to wrestle when I get older.’ That’s what they tell me. I remember the hits and the crowd cheering.”
Now 17 and an accomplished athlete, Lamborn knows firsthand what it’s liked to be cheered by an enthusiastic crowd. But even though he’s been a top-notch wrestler since middle school, Lamborn isn’t satisfied with his achievements.
“Wrestling makes me mad,” Lamborn said. “I finish third every year. In middle school I finished third at the nationals in Virginia. As a freshman I finished third at 140 at state. As a sophomore at 160 I finished third at state. Between my sophomore and junior year I finished third at 157 pounds at the World of Wrestling National Tournament, which had wrestlers from Japan also competing. As a junior, I was third in state again. I should’ve won.
“I hate third. I hate three. In regionals last year I lost to a guy I beat during the year. He went on to win state. I gotta get over that third-place crap. I don’t know what’s up with that. Last year wasn’t my year. Every time I tried to do something, it got worse.”
SEARCHING FOR CONTACT
While he may feel like giving himself a wedgie with his wrestling singlet for his third-place finishes, Lamborn has nonetheless received letters from prestigious wrestling schools like Iowa, Lehigh and Nebraska.
Still, if given the choice, Lamborn said he would choose football over wrestling. Lamborn professes a distinct pleasure for dishing out punishment to others on the football field – even when he’s running the ball.
“There’s nothing better than putting your shoulder down and hitting someone,” Lamborn said. “It’s always fun to lower your shoulder and get a hit. I get my mentality from my old linebackers coach. He said it even says in the Bible, ‘It’s better to give than receive.’ I always try to get to the end zone, but if I get boxed in I give a hit.”
More of a bruiser like Larry Csonka or Earl Campbell, Lamborn looks up to finesse running backs like Reggie Bush and LaDanian Tomlinson. Not surprisingly, he cites Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher as his favorite linebackers.
“He gives it everything he’s got every game,” said Quilling, who could only utter “Oh my god” when asked to imagine Lamborn in a 235-pound body with his mentality. “Even if he was 190-200 he would be unbelievable. He could play for a lot of programs at outside linebacker (at that weight).
“He runs hard. He’s a good runner – not the fastest. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he made first or second team in the Sierra League. He’s not getting the ball that many times. The quarterback (Mitch Hammond) is getting a few more carries. If he could finish with 120-130 carries, he could get close to 1,000 yards.”
Lamborn currently has 90 carries for 524 yards and five touchdowns for Carson and prior to Friday’s game with North Valleys, he had 38 tackles, 16 assists, one sack, two caused fumbles and two interceptions on defense.
“He’s a stud. There’s nothing else to say,” said Kyle Banko, another wrestler, linebacker/running back and friend. “He works hard every play. He’s real enthusiastic and loves playing the game. (Against Reed as a sophomore) he got knocked down and got right up again. He gives 110 percent every time.”
Ryan Eichenberger, a cornerback for the Senators, said a Nevada Appeal photographer captured the epitome of Lamborn.
“The picture that pops into my mind is when the (Sept. 9, 2006) newspaper showed him running over a guy (defensive back Andrew Sharkey) from Manogue. I picture that every time, when he drilled that guy. He likes to give it to them and lay them out.”
Roberts, who got into a shoving match with Lamborn in the first grade when the pair found out they shared the same birthday (March 5, 1989), said he has a painful memory to go with all the good ones he has of Lamborn.
“I was a backup quarterback when I got my first concussion,” Roberts said. “Guess who gave it to me? Travis Lamborn. I was doing a 360-degree turn to handoff and his elbow was high and tagged me on the forehead. It knocked me out. I flew through the air and was on the ground 10 seconds. I had headaches after that one.
“I bench press more than him, but he hits harder than me. That’s his big characteristic. There’s just something in there. The crazy thing with Travis, since I’ve known him, he definitely has that drive. He never stops. He has that athletic drive every coach wants.”
Just ask Quilling.
“He’s very coachable,” he said. “He’s one of our captains and he’s well-liked among the kids. He goes hard. He has a good work ethic, good parents who stay on top of him. He’s an all-round good kid. He’s really consistent. You know what you’re going to get. He’s Mr. Consistency.”
JUST HAVING FUN
Lamborn’s popularity carries off the field as well. Eichenberger said his teammate likes to help people and does well in school, while Banko said Lamborn loves to have fun. And Roberts said it’s good, clean fun.
“We definitely try to stay out of trouble,” Roberts said. “We try to have as much fun as we can and push the line. We don’t get in (real trouble), but we get in a little trouble. Carson’s not a teenager’s town. You go to the movies and bowling place and after two weeks, you’re bored.
“We go golfing and haystacking. Haystacking is where you take a truckful of hay and go to people’s houses. You stack three of them in front of the door and play doorbell ditch. It doesn’t hurt anybody.”
And it beats a flaming bag full of cow paddies.
Knocking players out of their cleats, passing out free hay, it’s all part of the journey for Lamborn, who gets As and Bs in school.
“I was thinking I was going to try and be a firefighter,” Lamborn said of his future ambitions. “But my parents want me to go to college. I can pursue being an EMT, a paramedic. I took an anatomy class and learned how the body works and functions. It was kinda cool.”
And it’s not everybody who can run over people on the field and fix them back up again.