Football runs deep in Hodge family bloodline
Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 12:02 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
COOKEVILLE — Family and football go hand-in-hand with Chad and Keith Hodge.
It’s truly in their blood.
The two brothers who served as coordinators for Dresden in the Lions’ magical march to the Class 2A BlueCross Bowl state championship team are bound not only by the same parents, but in their love for the game and each other.
“Our dad was a huge sports fan and we played all sports growing up,” said Chad — the elder Hodge, who’ll turn 36 next week and has been Dresden’s defensive coordinator the last two seasons. “Obviously, football was our favorite, and I have so many wonderful memories that are tied to football and my family.
“That Keith and I have been able to coach together the last couple of years has been really special — especially in light of what the team has been able to accomplish. I love my brother to death and I’m big on family. Having football in common and being able to share experiences like I have with him, both this year and last year, is something you can’t put a price on.”
Both Hodge brothers played on the prep level for legendary Bruceton head coach Rod Sturdivant and were key contributors to the Tigers’ storied success during that program’s heyday in the 1990s. Each was a quarterback and defensive back and is said to have had as different demeanors then as they do today as coaches.
“I talked to Rod (Sturdivant) about them and he laughed and said back then, no matter how well Chad played, he always came into the locker room and was disappointed, thinking he could’ve done better,” Dresden head coach Scott Hewett cited when contrasting the brothers’ personalities. “I don’t think Keith was that way at all. He sure isn’t now.”
The elder Hodge admitted with a smile that his younger brother “is the calm one.”
“He’s so intelligent, too. He’s done such a great job with our kids and what we do offensively. You remember, they didn’t win a game here the year before he got here. We’ve won 28 in the three years that he’s been the offensive coordinator.”
Keith, who has, in fact, been the Lions’ play-caller during seasons of 7-4, 9-3 and 12-3, said his older sibling was to share equally in any credit due the coaching staff toward Dresden’s turnaround from doormat to state title game participant.
“Chad has brought so much fire and energy to that side of the ball for us,” said Keith, who is the likely frontrunner to succeed Hewett after the veteran DHS head coach announced earlier in the year that he’d step away from the program to concentrate on his administrative responsibilities. “What Chad has done with the defense has been amazing.”
The two admittedly talk the game regularly, with Chad saying, “I’ll be watching somebody play on TV and see something and pick up the phone and ask Keith, ‘Did you see that?’
“And if I don’t call him, he calls me and asks the same thing. Whether in person or on the phone or whatever, we talk football a lot.”
Typical of the little-brother, big-brother relationship, Keith insists he’s learned plenty from Chad by just watching, admiring and emulating.
“He’s been a good big brother in a lot of ways, but in football, he’s certainly taught me a lot. He’s taught me how to prepare, how to get your team to execute, different things about film study,” Keith said. “I go to him a lot and I trust his word. I’m really blessed to have been able to coach with him.”
Though both have served as assistants at other schools — Chad at Henry County and Keith at McMinn County — each said they’d like to continue their current situation and working relationship should Keith end up with the DHS head job.
Not surprisingly, Chad said, “Keith should be the next head coach here, if he wants it.”
Keith countered with: “If I apply and got the job, I’d want Chad here with me.”
And if that doesn’t happen?
“It would be hard not coaching at Dresden,” Chad said, his voice trailing off. “I love those kids and that community. And I’d do anything for my brother.”
It’s both a family thing and a football thing. Published in The WCP 12.6.11