Week 5 review: Building relationships critical to Ola’s 4-0 start

Ola coach Tom Causey talks to his offense during a timeout against Eastside. Ola won the game 42-14 on Sept. 15. (Photo Mattison Crump)

Credit: Mattison Crump

Credit: Mattison Crump

Ola coach Tom Causey talks to his offense during a timeout against Eastside. Ola won the game 42-14 on Sept. 15. (Photo Mattison Crump)

The Ola Mustangs are off to a 4-0 start, their best stretch to open a season since 2020. Their grand beginning, built on the trust and leadership that developed over a productive off-season, has coach Tom Causey’s team pointed in the right direction as they head into a difficult Region 2A stretch.

“It’s all about relationships, no matter what you’re talking about – your faith, your family, your job, whatever it is,” Causey said. “We have been able to develop relationships with our players, and our players with each other in the off-season, that it makes it a little more personal and they want to play hard for each other.”

A big example came last week against Eastside. Ola had a 21-7 lead when Eastside broke a big play that appeared to be an easy touchdown. But Ola’s Skylar Spence ran down the ball carrier and Eastside eventually had to settle for a field goal try. Ola blocked the field goal and four plays later scored for a 28-7 lead.

The offense has been scoring plenty of points, averaging 41.5 per game. The team is directed by second-year starter Jake Holmes, a 6-3, 215-pound senior, who has a talented group of backs to choose from in senior Caiden Young and freshmen Caden Worley and Nigel Newkirk.

“All three of our running backs are first-year players,” Causey said. “They’re growing up and getting better each week. Being 14 years old and playing high school football has been an adjustment.”

But many of Ola’s points are generated by the defense. The Mustangs are plus-eight in turnovers and the offense has been given good field position on many opportunities.

“We’ve played good football and the defense has given us the ball in great field position,” Causey said. “To have the defense get us the ball on some short fields and to have a senior quarterback who has made some good decisions with the football, we’ve been able to score some points.”

The defense is anchored by its large, veteran defensive line, led by Lendric Barber, a 6-4, 297-pound senior who has committed to Coastal Carolina. The others are Malik Love (6-4, 215), Jace Hill (5-11, 200) and Treasean Logan (6-2, 207).

The linebackers on the inside by Spence and junior Nick Faison, with Tylon Cole and Braylon Lamar on the outside. The secondary is experience with safeties Justin Chavous and Macklin Sanders and corners Kaden Potts and Michael Knight.

Ola does not play this week and Causey said the timing was idea; it was without three starters the last two week. The Mustangs open Region 2 play on Sept. 29 at Warner Robins and returns home on Oct. 26 to play Jones County.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve done,” Causey said. “We play some really good football teams over the next six weeks. I think that’s a good thing. I’m excited for our players, I’m excited for our coaches. It’s been a lot of fun and we just have to keep working.”

In other big games last weekend:

Warner Robins turns away determined Dutchtown: Dutchtown, which beat Warner Robins last year, used a blocked punt and a safety to take a 22-7 lead when Warner Robins’ Myles Joiner changed the momentum with an interception in the end zone. That ignited a 22-0 run and resulted in the Demons claiming a 29-22 victory in the Region 2 opener. Isiah Canion caught two touchdown passes, including the one that tied the game, and Rasean Dinkins scored the game-winner from the 22.

Harris County improves to 4-1: The Tigers beat up on Hardaway 40-13 and improved to 4-1 for the first time since 2013 when they went on the reach the second round of the state playoffs. Quarterback Levi Watson, receiver Ran Ogletree and running back/linebacker Mataye Youman lead Harris County.

Chattahoochee gets first win: The Cougars got a victory for first-year coach Danny Carlisle. D.J. Avery and Luke Priester were the players of the game in the 34-0 win over Johns Creek. It was the team’s first shutout win since Sept. 23, 2016, against Dunwoody.

Clarke Central works overtime for victory: The Gladiators scored on third down in overtime on a run by Jaden Collier and made a two-point conversion to beat South Forsyth 21-20 and improve to 3-1. Clarke scored on a long scoring run by Kendrick Curry and two field goals by Cooper Evans in regulation.

Winder-Barrow outlasts Loganville in Region 8 opener: The Bulldoggs improved to 4-1 by beating neighboring Loganville 19-15 in the first Region 8 contest for each team. Winder’s M.J. Dowdy scored the winning points on a 3-yard touchdown run inside the final two minutes, adding to the pair of touchdown passes from Evan Lynn to Kenyon Glasper.