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Full Circle

These former Oxford High School varsity baseball and football teammates are back at their alma mater as coaches.

Written by Leslie Criss | Photographed by Joe Worthem

When Oxford High School staff members gathered at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, it was a reunion of sorts for head football coach Chris Cutcliffe and baseball coach Cade Hoggard.

Cutcliffe, 35, and Hoggard, 34, met as seventh graders at Oxford Middle School.

The Knoxville, Tennessee-born Cutcliffe moved with his family to Oxford when he was in sixth grade; Hoggard, born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, was in kindergarten when his family moved to Oxford.

The two became friends and teammates on both the baseball and football fields, playing summer baseball together through middle school and later varsity baseball for the Oxford High School Chargers. Hoggart played multiple positions for the Chargers — pitcher, outfielder and first base; Cutcliffe played second base. And one of their best memories from their time on the baseball field remains their team winning OHS’s first state championship in 2005.

There are also highlights from their varsity football years, when Cutcliffe was Charger quarterback and Hoggard tight end. In fact, both smile big behind their beards as they recall a specific 2004 Friday night under the lights.

“No score,” Cutcliffe said. “We were in the fourth quarter. I threw the ball to Cade, he caught it, and we won the game 7-0. Against Tupelo.”

After graduating from Oxford High School, Cutcliffe went to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he served as manager of the Tennessee Volunteers football team. Later, he attended graduate school at Duke University, where he was a football intern for two years. His father, former Ole Miss football coach David Cutcliffe, was also coach at Duke at the time.

Hoggard spent three years at Mississippi State University and two years at Delta State University, where he got his degree. He played baseball at both universities.

The long-held hopes each had to one day coach became realities after college. Hoggard stayed on at Delta State two additional years as a graduate assistant; he coached at Olive Branch seven years — two as assistant baseball coach and five as head coach; and he was head coach in Amory two years until signing on as head baseball coach at OHS for the 2021-22 school year.

Cutcliffe’s been a football coach at OHS 11 years — five as assistant and six as head coach.

The two lost touch after high school, but they’ve had plenty of opportunities to catch up since both are back in the place their friendship started. Cutcliffe and his wife Molly are the parents of five sons, ages 10, 8, 6, 4 and 1½.

“My wife has known Cade longer than I have,” Cutcliffe said. “There are pictures of them from kindergarten — the two red heads.”

Hoggard and his wife Caitlin have two sons, ages 5 and 2.

“Between us, we need two more sons to have a baseball team,” Hoggard said.

Both coaches also spend time in the classroom. Cutcliffe is an algebra teacher; Hoggard teaches leadership and economics. If he ever had to choose between coaching and teaching, Hoggard says the choice would be easy.

“I love coaching,” he said. “When you’re in small town, USA, and the lights go up on the field and the whole town shuts down for the game, it’s awesome. There’s just something about it.”

Cutliffe confesses he’d consider it challenging to choose.

“I love interacting with all kinds of kids,” he said. “I love it in the classroom, and I love it outside on the field. I learn so much about coaching from the classroom. In fact, for me they go hand in hand.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the coaches and their players lost a season of their sport. But with the 2021-22 school season, came a new chance.

Last football season ended with the Chargers finishing with an 8-5 record, and now Cutcliffe and the team are pressing on, preparing for the season to come. And Hoggard is looking forward to the baseball season, his first at OHS, with excitement.

The two see each other often as they fulfill their longtime desires to coach. But they’ve not yet had the opportunity to just hang out.

“He’s chasing his 4-year-old, and I’m chasing my 2-year-old,” Hoggard said. “We did hang out at a middle school basketball game recently. And Chris was there when I interviewed for the coaching position. It was good to see a friendly face.”

What about their pets?

Since this story appears in our annual pet issue, we also asked Cutcliffe and Hoggard about their pets! The Cutcliffe family has a standard poodle named Bear and a female cat named Ares, after the Greek god of courage and war. And the Hoggard family includes two dogs: Roxie’s a Shih Tzu/Yorkie mix, and Sandy is a “Delta mutt.” Sandy is 12 and still going.

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