Lion, Tide pals wage friendly cell war
Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 12:00 pm
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Before their teams play each other in the Class 2A state quarterfinals, Joe Gaddis and Chad Hodge have played a little game of cat-and-mouse this week.
Just like Friday night, the winner has yet to be determined.
Gaddis, head coach of eight-ranked Trenton, and Hodge — the defensive coordinator for No. 5 Dresden — are longtime friends dating back to the days when Gaddis was head coach at Henry County and Hodge was his offensive coordinator.
They’ve admittedly continued their practice of either talking or texting multiple times every day this week as their respective squads gear up for their much-anticipated Round 3 postseason matchup that’ll pit a Golden Tide (9-3) team that has won seven straight and a Dresden squad that is 10-1 and looking to repeat last season’s state championship game run.
“There have been times where he’s sent me something this week and I’ve hesitated before I responded because I didn’t know if he was being truthful or just trying to see what my response would be,” laughed Hodge. “I can almost see him waiting and looking at his cellphone in anticipation of what I’ll say.”
Gaddis chuckled when confirming the good-natured back-and-fourth.
“When I thought this (game) might be a possibility last week, I told him: ‘I’m still going to talk to you every day. I’m gonna harass and pick on you just like I always do and I expect the same from you,’” the Peabody skipper said. “It’s really been fun and certainly different from a regular week.”
The two coaches remained in contact even after Gaddis took a job in North Carolina and Hodge spurned his offer to join him there. When the veteran Peabody coach was named Trenton’s new man in charge last winter, one of the first inquiries he made was to Hodge, who instead stayed with the Lions and with his brother Keith who was named the Dresden boss after three seasons as an assistant.
Though no longer on the same staff, Gaddis and the elder Hodge regularly talk and text — bouncing ideas off each other, sharing scouting reports and generally picking each other’s brain.
The shared admiration for each other is obvious.
“What’s going on at Dresden is not an accident. A lot of it is because of the knowledge and leadership of both Chad and Keith,” Gaddis said of the Hodge boys. “Chad is a head coach waiting to happen for somebody.
“He and I have always talked about coaching together again, and I’d relish that opportunity. At first — because I’m so much older than him — it was more like a father and son relationship. It’s evolved from that, though. He knows what I like to do as a football coach, and I feel like I know what he likes. I feel like he’s taken a lot of his philosophies from me but I’ve learned from him, too. It’s hard not to adopt some of the other guy’s thoughts when you’re as close as we’ve been.”
Hodge need not be asked his feelings about his former boss to get a glowing response.
“Coach Gaddis is a great football coach and a great man,” the Lion defensive boss insisted.
“It’s a huge challenge to prepare for this week, and there are a lot of similarities in what he believes and what I believe. We know each other well, and that’s made it a little more fun to get ready.”
Whether the cat gets the mouse or the mouse gets the cheese will be just a sideshow to Friday’s end result.
It could be a trap, either way. Published in The WCP 11.15.12