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Former Fieldcrest coach Derek Schneeman named DeKalb’s head football coach

Most of his 20s were spent as the head football coach of Fieldcrest High School. Now in his 30s, he will lead DeKalb’s program.

DeKalb offensive coordinator Derek Schneeman will be named head coach of the Barbs pending DeKalb School District 428 Board approval at the July 20 meeting.

“A lot more on my plate now, worrying about the offense last year and now taking on full head coaching responsibilities,” Schneeman said. “I’m honored and humbled and really looking forward to it.”

Schneeman has been the interim DeKalb coach since Keith Snyder announced he was stepping away from the program about five weeks ago. Snyder brought Schneeman on board last year as the team’s offensive coordinator, but the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the season and moved it to the spring, when the Barbs played only three games.

At Fieldcrest, Schneeman took over as a 23-year-old in 2014. He went 47-19 with five playoff berths in six years, reaching the Class 2A state semifinals in his first season and his last in 2019.

Schneeman said there are some challenges coaching a Class 7A school that are not present at the 2A level, but he said he’s ready to attack them.

“You just have more guys, so there’s more to handle with administration, the day-to-day stuff,” Schneeman said. “So that’s certainly different. But at the same time, kids are kids, no matter where you are at. You got to hold the guys accountable, make sure guys buy in and build relationships with guys.”

Before his stint as offensive coordinator in the abbreviated season, the Barbs went 1-2, averaging almost 20 points a game.

In his last full season as a head coach, Fieldcrest went 12-1 with that semifinal run.

“He has a great pedigree,” DeKalb athletic director Peter Goff said. “He’s had some success at Fieldcrest. I see a lot of coaches in passing and run into a lot of people who tell me what a great kid he is. ... He played at [Augustana College] and is a great addition. I knew in the back of my head he was a strong candidate, which is why I put him in as the interim coach.”

Fieldcrest never had won a playoff game before Schneeman’s arrival. DeKalb had similar struggles with only one playoff berth between 1990 and 2012.

However, the Barbs have made the playoffs every year that has had a postseason since 2013, including Snyder’s one full season and all seven years under Matt Weckler.

“I hope nothing misses a beat from Matt to Keith and now Derek,” Goff said. “I told him I’ve got six years left until I retire and I don’t want to hire another football coach. He comes with head coaching experience. He’ll put his stamp on DeKalb football and that’s what we’re happy about.”

Schneeman said that’s the plan, to build on the accomplishments of Weckler and Snyder, who went 3-2 in the DuPage Valley Conference in the Barbs’ first year in the conference. It also was Snyder’s first year as DeKalb coach, and he accomplished the winning record with 1,000 fewer students at DeKalb than the next smallest DVC school.

“I’d like to continue the success of first Matt Weckler, what he laid, and then what Keith continued and just further it,” Schneeman said. “Things are a little bit different playing in the DVC, and we’re going to be a 7A school for the foreseeable feature, so the goals are to continue the success we’ve had in conference and make some noise in 7A, win our first 7A playoff game.”

Schneeman said one thing the Barbs have to do to compete in the DVC is boost the numbers high enough to run three levels of football onto the field each week: freshman, sophomore and varsity.

He also said the team needs to hit the weight room.

“We’ve been better in recent years, but we have to continue that,” Schneeman said. “We have to be at peak level to deal with the competition we see week in and week out.”