In last year's meeting between Conant and Bartlett, the teams combined to score a total of six points as the Bears edged the Cougars, 6-0, while holding the Conant offense to zero yards through the air.
The narrow defeat would prove to be the closest the Cougars would come to tasting a victory all season long as it suffered the school's first winless season (0-9) since 1975, averaging an anemic 7.7 points per game on offense. On a positive note, the team's 1976 edition rebounded to finish a respectable 4-5 the following year.
But hope springs eternal in Cougar Country as the program is optimistic that the arrival of new head coach, Bryan Stortz, will lead Conant back to playoff contention - a place they had been to four of the previous six seasons. Stortz takes over for the retired Bill Modelski and brings an impressive combined record of 96-34 with Lake Zurich from 2006-2011 and most recently, Rock Island from 2012-2016.
A transformation may not happen over night, but the Cougar faithful should be aware of a few facts about Stortz that will surely get them excited for the upcoming season. First, Stortz has guided his teams to the playoffs in 10 of the past 11 seasons. Second, he's never won less than three games in a season. And lastly, in his final year with Rock Island in 2016, the Rocks offense averaged over 38 points per contest.
All this bodes well for a Cougars squad whose first three non-conference opponents were a combined 8-20 in 2016.