Mark Cox had one condition if he returned to the sidelines as an assistant high school football coach. He wanted to work with someone who shared his values.
Cox believes in establishing a healthy balance between work and family so that coaching doesn’t overtake one's personal life. Greg Hatfield met that requirement.
“There are certain people you respect, like and want to work with,” Cox said.
When Hatfield accepted the head coaching job at Battlefield, he asked Cox to join him, Cox signed on immediately as the quarterbacks coach.
Bringing Cox aboard has a number of advantages. He’s been successful at every place he’s served as head coach.
No one knows Battlefield football better than Cox. He started the program when the school opened in 2004 and turned it into a postseason regular. Under Cox, Battlefield began a streak of 11 straight playoff appearances, a Prince William County record. Cox spent 13 years total as Battlefield's head coach, going 97-45 and leading the Bobcats to the Group AAA Division 6 state title in 2010.
Another plus is that Cox knows something about quarterbacks. He was an all-state performer at that position in leading Annandale High School to a state title before going on to star at Virginia Tech.
Cox is retired from teaching, but was still helping at Battlefield through the Retirement Opportunity Program. ROP allows Prince William County School retirees ineligible to collect Social Security yet to earn additional income.
“When I took the job, Mark was the first person who came to mind,” Hatfield said. “He has a great offensive mind. He wants Battlefield to be good.”
When Cox retired for good as Battlefield’s head coach following the 2018 season, he encouraged Hatfield to consider coming to the school. At the time, Hatfield wasn’t in a position to move for family reasons.
But when the job came open again after Scott Girolmo left for the same position at Prince George High School, Hatfield applied at Battlefield.
It was one of the few positions Hatfield would leave Eastern View for. As the Culpeper County school’s only head coach since it opened in 2008, Hatfield posted one losing season (4-6, 2012). In 13 seasons, Hatfield went 109-36 and his teams reached the postseason eight times, including seven straight from 2013-19.
Cox has known Hatfield for a long time and was prepared to join Hatfield if he came to Battlefield.
“I planned to walk away [from coaching] for good, but with Greg, he was someone I wanted to work with,” Cox said.
Cox likes he can focus on his one area without dealing with the extra responsibilities that come with being a head coach.
Still, the job required Cox to get up to speed as soon as possible with new offensive schemes in the passing game.
“It’s hard when you coach a certain way for 30 years,” Cox said. “The game is constantly changing. I needed to learn.”