Bounced from a Class 7A championship appearance last season by an official's error in its semifinal, Fenwick tried to make sense of the lost opportunity.
A friend of coach Gene Nudo provided a parable they could live with.
"The life lesson is, suffer well," Nudo said Tuesday.
The defending Chicago Catholic League Green Division champion will try to make its foes suffer while maintaining respect for them, a sign of a championship outfit. Among other things, Nudo coached Driscoll to the 1991 Class 3A title and is a member of five halls of fame.
Calling Marmion coach Dan Thorpe "a true gentleman," noting that first-year St. Francis coach Bob McMillen was the first player he signed to the Arena Football League's Arizona Rattlers, praising the Montini and DeLaSalle programs, Nudo brings that respect. He's not alone.
"I have a lot of respect for 'Geno,'" said Montini coach Mike Bukovsky.
"I think the conference has stepped up a level, I think Fenwick showed that last year," said the Broncos' 28-year defensive coordinator now in his first season as head man. "They had a few difference-makers, had a great year."
Fenwick still has a difference-maker or two. Back is 6-foot-6, 230-pound all-state receiver Michael O'Laughlin, a West Virginia commit voted the 2016 Green outstanding offensive player after catching 54 passes.
Also returning is Fordham commit Austin Glazier, a 6-6, 305-pound left tackle, plus twin linemen Anthony and Mike Leopold. Twins also roam the secondary, Lorente and Lorenzano Blakeney. Jacob Kaminski, a 6-3, 225-pound defensive end, made 8.5 sacks last season as a freshman.
"They lost their quarterback (Green MVP Jacob Keller) but in the summer they showed they have athletic kids and good guys up front," Bukovsky said.
Before shifting to the CCL Blue next season Montini -- 2015 Green winner and 2014 co-champ with St. Francis -- is determined to improve upon a campaign considered subpar despite losses to state champions Prairie Ridge and Maine South, 11-2 Fenwick and 9-3 Brother Rice.
Bukovsky and offensive coordinator Brian Casey must decide how to use three quarterbacks with varsity experience -- Brad Norgle, Nick Orlando and Matt Morrissey -- and the defensive line must develop, but the Broncos are at least CCL Green cofavorite.
"It's hard to count out Fenwick and Montini, they have run the conference for the past four years," said DeLaSalle coach Mike Boehm.
Running back-linebacker Jake Karczewski, defensive end Jalen Slater, linemen Sam Jarvis and Joe Ciesla, linebacker Jackson Bruscianelli, safety Rian O'Connor and receiver Matt Quaglia resume their spots. Kicker Michael Cooney and punter Adam Krause pace sterling special teams.
Boehm listed his son, two-way lineman Nick Boehm, among a group of top returners including quarterback Rob Semintal, tight end-defensive lineman Mike Coates and receiver Frank Ramundo.
With 32 varsity players Marmion's strapped for depth but not for talent. Returning quarterback Brandon McPherson, 6-5, 255-pound center Jacob Baxa and 4.4 sprinter Zach Urwiler are all Division I recruits. Thorpe said receiver-defensive back Jacob Molenhouse has the best hands he's seen in 12 years at Marmion.
St. Francis, which will move to the Metro Suburban Conference next school year, also must gather depth around returning all-conference players Joe Lang and Sam Sidari plus linebacker Nico Rendina, receiver Zach Burke and newcomers such as Henry Plamondon. Nudo is sure McMillen will get it done.
"He knows how to win, believe me," Nudo said. "He's got the hardware to show for it."