A player called him a good, all-around coach.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
COLUMBUS -- The timing was right for Scott Knox.
When Dave Smercansky left as coach of the Boardman High baseball team to become assistant athletic director, Knox gladly accepted the job.
"That allowed me to step in and plug into the program," said Knox, a teacher at Boardman. "I just feel fortunate to be able to work with these guys and be a part of their lives."
But who would have thought Knox would lead Boardman into the state tournament in his first year?
"I said, 'Guys, everybody wants to be the state champion, but you know what? You truly have to believe that, from day one, we can accomplish our goals. You've got to have that vision for it to take place.' "
Decade drought: That vision became a reality as the Spartans earned their first trip to the state tournament since 1991, when Smercansky's team lost 4-0 to Fairfield in the championship game.
"He's a great leader. He always got the best out of us," Boardman junior pitcher Matt Repec said of Knox.
"Everyone trusted him, and we always felt that he made the right decisions," Repec said. "He's a guy who will fight to the end for anybody. He's not even playing, and he's still going nuts for everything we do."
Senior second baseman Kevin Gesacion said of Knox, "He'll forget more than I'll ever know. The guy can talk; he says something different every day. He's a good motivator, an all-around good coach."
Knox knew many of his players through Youngstown's Class B league, "so we kind of had an idea skill-wise what we were looking at. We have some tools that obviously we were able to work with. They went out and got it done and put themselves here."
Knox benefited from the experience of assistants Jerry Ensley, Bob Stauffer and Ken Tirpack; the three coached under Smercansky and knew the Spartans' system.
"I've coached with Kenny and Jerry before, so that really helped as far as me coming in," said Knox, who played at the University of Kentucky and received his degree from Youngstown State.
"Dave left the program in a great situation," he said. "All I tried to do was come in and keep it moving forward."
Knox credited the leadership of his seven seniors -- Tony Dellapena, Dennis Golubic, Kris King, Rick Mosco, Nelson Navarro, Dave Stillwagon and Gesacion -- whom he feels "set the tone" for the program's future.
"When next year comes around, we're going to keep working hard and try to get back here again to get it done," Knox said.
"They [the Spartans] are one of the top four teams in Ohio out of 162," Knox said. "When they sit back and really understand what they've done, they're going to be very proud of themselves."