Fortuna scores twice in Lake Park victory against Conant

One quarter of the Mid-Suburban League's 12 football teams had coaching debuts on the area's prep gridirons Friday night.

JeMarcus Moody led Wheeling in its home debut versus North Chicago.

Danny O'Donnell led his alma mater Elk Grove to South suburban Country Club Hills for its season opener at Hillcrest.

Last but not least was Anthony Donatucci's debut as Conant traveled to Lake Park's West Campus in Roselle, where Moody was an assistant at a season ago.

Unfortunately for Donatucci and his team, that debut ended in a 28-7 defeat to the host Lancers.

It had been a season ago that Conant had pinned a season-opening defeat on Lake Park coach Chris Kirkpatrick's debut at home.

After the Cougars (0-1) knotted the contest up at 7 on a 9-yard Matt Maize TD toss to Joshua Barnett with 6:28 remaining until halftime, Lake Park (1-0) broke free from that tie with a pair of scoring drives over the final 6:28 of the first half.

It started with an 11-play, 80-yard march that senior Declan Fortuna ended by taking it in from 3 yards out with 2:24 left.

After the Lancers defense got a three and out on Conant's next offensive series, the hosts went back to paydirt on an 12-play, 67-yard drive over the 100 seconds of the second culminating with a 9-yard scoring strike between fellow Lake Park seniors Michael McCormick and Matt Rodriguez on the final play of the half, giving them a 21-7 advantage.

Rodriguez got the Lancers on the scoreboard first with a 72-yard punt return that he took to the end zone with 3:20 left in the opening period.

After a scoreless third quarter, Fortuna wrapped up the night's scoring with his second TD jaunt from 5 yards out with 5:48 left.

"I'm loving this and I've been dreaming of this (moment)," Fortuna said. "To come out here in our first game and (win) is the best feeling ever."

McCormick finished the night 20-of-35 passing for 189 yards while the Lancers defense held the visitors to just 43 yards total offense.

"We're a senior-driven team," Kirkpatrick said. "I'm really proud of our group. I think the story for me is that (they) really want to change the culture of Lake Park football. We have a really challenging test at (Oak Park-River Forest) next week and they're going to have to step up (to the challenge) again."

The game capped off a tripleheader event held by Lake Park on Friday to highlight all of the school's fall athletic teams as they were introduced prior to the gridiron matchup.

The Lancers boys soccer squad kicked off the evening's festivities with a 2-0 win over visiting Rockford Jefferson in a late afternoon contest.

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