The Lake Park football program entered a new era on Friday night as the Lancers traveled to Naperville Central to play their inaugural DuPage Valley Conference game.
The lesson learned, though, was one that has been taught in every league, from Bill George leagues to the NFL: You can't turn the ball over and expect to win games, which the Lancers were reminded of harshly as their 6 giveaways helped the Redhawks to a 36-0 victory.
"We got ourselves behind every possible 8-ball we could," said Lake Park coach Chris Roll. "When we weren't giving it away, we were starting every single series in the first half inside our 20, either through special teams errors, or they had good coverage."
As longtime members of the DVC, the Redhawks (3-0, 1-0) knew they had to take advantage of their guest's largesse. So they turned takeaways on four consecutive Lake Park possessions in the first half into 24 points that helped give them a 36-0 lead.
"We definitely stepped it up," said Justin Wegner, a Redhawks safety and part of a defensive secondary that intercepted Lake Park quarterbacks four times. "Our defense has always been real good, solid and sound, but going into the DVC we really knew we would have to amp it up even more."
The offense actually set the early tone in the game as Central took the opening kickoff 80 plays in 13 snaps with the key play a 36-yard pass from Jake Kolbe to Manny Rugamba that set up Tyler Joyce's eventual 3-yard touchdown run.
The Lake Park defense made some noise of its own on Central's next possession when defensive lineman Mike Panasiuk stuffed Kolbe for no gain on fourth-and-3 from the Lancer 28. That did nothing more, however, than set the stage for turnover woes for Lake Park (1-2, 0-1).
The first of two Dylan Grooss interceptions gave Central the ball back on the 40, from where Kolbe hit Ben Andreas for a TD on the next play to make it 13-0 after one quarter. Then Antonio Shenault's fumble was recovered in the end zone by Dan Delgrosso. Joe Schweikart's interception set up the next score, Connor Assalley's 31-yard field goal, before a fumbled Lancer kick return led to Clifford's 5-yard scoring run.
When Kolbe capped a perfectly executed 2-minute drive with a 21-yard TD toss to Mike Kolzow, the Redhawks led 36-0 at the break.
Neither team made much offensive headway in the second half, though the Lancers did threaten to score in the game's final moments when Kenny Jones' 48-yard run took the ball to the Central 3. From there, Central's backup defenders slammed the door with Brett Kappelman's interception ultimately preserving the shutout win.
"Our defense was outstanding," said Central coach Mike Stine. "We really flew to the ball well and played great defense. It was also nice to see our third-team defense preserve the shutout at the end."