There’s a new man in charge of the Santa Monica High football team.

Drawn by the location of the school and the history of the program, Ramsey Lambert will be tasked with leading the Vikings after a one-year stint at La Canada.

Lambert inherits a Samohi squad that went 5-6 overall and 3-2 in Ocean League play last year, when it finished behind El Segundo and Lawndale in the conference standings and fell to Torrance-West in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

“It’s a great, diverse community and school, which is something I’m very familiar with,” he said during a phone interview Friday. “It was a great fit and a great location. Southern California is a great place to be, and Santa Monica — I don’t think it gets much better than that.

“They have a really rich tradition of football success, and they compete for a league title year in and year out. Even last year, they had so many close losses. There’s a lot of potential there. And there’s a lot of support.”

Lambert arrives after finding success in his first head-coaching gig, leading La Canada to its first winning campaign since 2006 with a 7-4 record that included a win by forfeit.

Although he had previously served as an assistant at Victorville-Silverado and Hesperia-Oak Hills, he had never been first in command until last year.

Lambert said he gained experience in the managerial facets of the job, working with boosters, putting on fundraisers, ordering equipment and crafting practice plans.

“It was the missing piece in my resume … and La Canada gave me a wonderful opportunity,” he said. “I learned a lot along the way. It gave me the chance to undertake all those aspects and put them into practice.”

Lambert fills the coaching vacancy left by Travis Clark, who stepped down after six years at the helm to take the same position at Lawndale.

Clark posted an overall record of 41-28 (.594) during his tenure at Samohi, including a mark of 23-7 (.766) in conference play. The team regressed in the playoffs over its last four campaigns, reaching the section semifinals in 2011, losing in the quarterfinals the next two years and bowing out in the first round this past season.

Lambert will be a full-time employee of the Santa Monica-Malibu school district and will teach a freshman seminar in addition to his coaching duties. Clark was not a full-time SMMUSD employee, but district officials have said they prefer athletic coaches who work on campus.

Lambert said his coaching staff has not been finalized but added he’s been in touch with several recent assistants and plans to meet with them this week.

Pat Dunn, Douglas Kim and James Makris oversaw the football program as the district searched for Clark’s replacement, according to district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker.

Born in Hawaii and raised in California, Lambert played football at Hesperia High and turned to coaching after sustaining an injury at Victor Valley College in Victorville. He studied kinesiology at the University of Hawaii.

Lambert said he’s looking forward to the challenge of preparing his new players for the 2015 season.

“I’m extremely excited and fortunate,” he said. “We have a big fan base really rooting for Santa Monica. I can’t wait to get on campus and meet our kids and show up for game one ready to go.”

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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