Payson High School first-year head baseball coach Scott Novack is known around town as a football and basketball assistant coach and the man who led the 2008 Major Division Little League all-star team into the post season.
But his coaching pedigree runs much deeper than those assignments.
Before arriving in Payson to take a teaching position at Rim Country Middle School, he coached baseball at Scottsdale Arcadia, Saguaro, Coolidge and Fountain Hills high schools. At those, he coached freshman and junior varsity teams and was also a varsity assistant.
At Saguaro, he served as a co-head coach to Bill Kehoe.
Novack also worked as an assistant to two Arizona Hall of Fame coaches — Bill Berger and Mike Briguglio.
In all, Novack was involved in baseball in the Valley area for more than 20 years.
During that time, Novack remembers coaching against former Longhorn coach Teddy Pettet.
“I always respected him and his teams,” he said. “He was a great guy and a great coach; we had some tough games against Payson when I was at Fountain Hills.”
When Pettet resigned his PHS coaching position in 2003, he approached Novack.
“He asked me if I was interested in the job, but I was at Fountain Hills and never was really interested in being a head coach.”
Novack admits not knowing his predecessor at PHS, Jerry Daniels, well, but says, “he was good to my son (Cale), and he did a great job with fund-raising and organization, setting us up for improving the field and program this year.”
While it’s obvious from Novack’s resume that he is a baseball purebred, he’ll be the first to admit all head coaches need a good support staff.
“I have some excellent coaches helping me out,” he said, mentioning varsity assistants Ty Goodman, Waylon Pettet and Scott Nossek.
Goodman and Pettet starred for the Horns during their high school careers, and Nossek spent time in the pros after a pitching career at the University of Arizona.
On the junior varsity, Novack has enlisted Brian Young and Bob Watson to coach.
Also, Novack said, “my friend Bill Kehoe will be coming to town to help with our hitting.
“He owns and operates KRUSH hitting clinics, a nationwide school.”
In taking over the program, Novack cites Slade Gibson, Scott Geske and Goodman for their efforts in upgrading Longhorn field, “They brought our field into the 20th century.”
The coach is also grateful to Gary Fishel, Gary Chitwood and Heath Wacker for last year jump-starting a junior-high middle school program.
“We have some outstanding freshmen who, I think, are better because of the instruction they received through the efforts of those guys.”
Novack also thanks Blue Ridge coach Joe Merklin and Fountain Hills’ Mike Briguglio, “who are always willing to help me when I need it.”