Bryan Stortz knew what he was getting into when he took the Conant head football coaching job.
But even though the Cougars were 0-9 last year, Stortz does not look at this as huge rebuilding process.
"It is coaching kids," said Stortz, who was previously the head coach at Rock Island, and before that Lake Zurich.
"It is the same-old same-old, but this is a great place to be. The tradition for 52 years has been here. I think last year was not a great barometer of what Conant football is. I think the kids and the staff are working hard to be at that point where we think we can be."
Since he was in Rock Island until June, Stortz is taking all of his players out for a test drive. But as the opening of the season fast approaches, he has begun the process of selecting the right model and options.
At the starting point, Stortz has an option at quarterback. Matt Majer, who is a senior and Kevin Polaski, who is a junior, are battling it out for a starting spot.
"We have lots of situations like this," Stortz said. "Competition for a position is always good."
That's not the only position that Stortz is taking a hard look at.
There are four players at the running back spot, with Jack Reiger figuring to get most of the touches. But Brendan Spates, Anderson Pate and Joseph Perez also are in the mix.
At wide receiver, Anthony Wachal, Cole Kitty and Mitchell Shintaku will play, depending on the offensive package sent in. That package could include tight ends Mason Sykes and Fellipo DeFrenza,
The offensive line is pretty set with Jack Lampert, Ed Gosche, Diego Gonzalez, John Nava and Conrad Bialy. Caleb Hacker and Chris Swinkunas also figure to se some action.
It was an offense that struggled last year, scoring a touchdown or less in 7 of 9 games.
"I think the kids have a renewed enthusiasm," Stortz said. "We are going to try to get back to what Conant football has been known for. And that is good, hard-nosed football with people flying around and getting physical."
Stortz has favored a 3-3-5 look for his defenses and will bring that to Conant.
The front three will be a rotation of Anderson, Nava, Isaiah Conde, Graesen Jackson, Dante Trombetta and Matt Cadre.
Reiger will lead a linebacking corps that includes Dominic Giannini, DeFrenza and Sykes. Cole, Wachal, Shintaku, David Zdzichowski, Cole Albach and Joey Carrell will make up the secondary.
"I think our kids are working extremely hard," Stortz said. "That want to be able to turn things around faster than what other people think. We have to see the small progress. But you also have to keep big picture in mind and I think our kids our doing that."