MINONK — Two days into the official preseason practice schedule, it's a case of so far, so good for the Fieldcrest Knights and fifth-year head coach Derek Schneeman as they look to build off 2017's return to the IHSA playoffs.
"Things are going well," said Schneeman, whose Knights are scheduled to open the 2018 season Friday, Aug. 24 at home against the Interstate Eight Conference's Reed-Custer. "Numbers-wise we're going good with 52 kids out. I wish we had a couple more, but with so many coming back from a successful season last year, we've been able to hit the ground running and get everything in we need to get in, plus add a few new wrinkles."
A team-building camp at Eureka College highlighted a strong summer for the Knights, Schneeman said. Through two days of practice, Fieldcrest boasts a dozen seniors and 44 total players dressing varsity.
A wealth of those are returning from a team which went 7-3 last fall and appeared in the playoffs after a one-year hiatus. Fieldcrest has gone 30-13 (.698 winning percentage) since Schneeman took over the program in 2014.
Replacing all-everything quarterback Cam Grandy, gone to graduation, will be job No. 1, with Tyler McKay and Matt Lorton spending practice time so far competing for the starting spot.
There specifically and overall, Schneeman is optimistic his Knights are in position to build off of last year's success.
"Last year was huge for us," Schneeman said. "But did we go as far as we wanted to or as we felt we should have? No ... so we still have some things to prove, even though expectations are high."