Derek Schneeman has moved on after he led the Fieldcrest football program to new heights over the last six years, but the Knights have a familiar face set to take the reins.

Mike Freeman, who was the JV head coach and a varsity offensive assistant during Schneeman’s tenure, has been hired to lead the Fieldcrest program.

“I’m just incredibly blessed,” Freeman said. “Every time it’s a credit to God. He’s given us the opportunity to be here and allow me to pursue my dream and achieve this great position of being the next Fieldcrest head coach. I’m really excited to work with a great group of kids coming up. The staff — Mitch Neally, Craig Meyer, Wayne Weber, Zach Meyer, Logan Weber and Anthony Rodgers — are just great people who I call my friends. We’ve had a great time over the last six years. The support of my wife has meant the world to me. My kids are behind me. I’m truly blessed to be in this position.”

Schneeman led the Knights to a 47-19 record, five playoff appearances, undefeated regular seasons in 2014 and 2019 and Class 2A semifinal appearances in 2014 and 2019.

“Derek did great things with the program,” Freeman said. “He’s definitely going to be missed. I’m happy to step in and continue the great success we’ve had at Fieldcrest.”

Freeman said the coaching staff will be key in helping the Knights continue their success.

“It looks like the entire staff might stay together,” Freeman said. “That’s really been a key to the success over the last six years is how cohesive we are. It’s just a great group of guys who love to work together and work hard and have fun. This job wouldn’t be what it is without them.”

Freeman played football at Streator High School and graduated in 2003.

He attended Northern Illinois University to get an accounting degree and began his high school coaching career as an assistant at La Salle-Peru from 2007-09 under Joe Sassano.

Freeman took a break from coaching to get his teaching degree at Illinois State University before serving as an assistant at L-P in 2013.

The next year Freeman began his tenure at Fieldcrest.

“I have some things I want to discuss with the coaching staff and see, but I don’t see myself going away from the spread-type offensive system,” Freeman said about his offensive and defensive philosophies. “Depending on the personnel we’ll have to look at the defense. Coach Neally has done a great job calling that the last few years with Wayne Weber’s help. We’ll get them talking and see what we plan on doing.”

Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at kchlum@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.