While he was content as an assistant at Loganville, Ryan Angel took immediate notice last month when the head football coaching vacancy opened up at Ola.

Previous head coach Jared Zito accepted a job at Southeast Bulloch, leaving behind an improving program that intrigued Angel and other candidates. Angel took a shot at the opening and landed the job he wanted this week when Ola announced him as its new head football coach.

“Loganville is fantastic — it’s actually where my wife grew up — but I wanted an opportunity to move into a head coaching role and I’ve been working for this my entire life,” Angel said. “Ola is the only school this year that struck me as a place I wanted to take my family, raise my children and be around the community there.”

Angel was familiar with Ola from his work as a head wrestling coach and from family members who had worked there in the past.

“I knew about the Ola community and Ola High school and how great it is,” said Angel, who has 3-year-old twin sons Logan and Reid with his wife Tracy, a teacher in Newton County. “What drew me to it is seeing the excitement about the school and knowing the community and meeting the administrative staff and seeing how excited they are about athletics. It’s a really special place.”

Ola felt Angel was the right person to take over a program that grew to prominence under Zito, the head coach since 2014. He took the team to its first state playoff appearance in 2016, and returned in 2019 and 2020. Each of those teams raised the bar on the school record for wins in a season — 6-5 in 2016, 7-4 in 2019 and 9-2 in 2020.

The Mustangs took another step forward last season by winning the first playoff game in their history.

“I am so excited to have Coach Angel as our new head football coach,” Ola athletic director Gidget Gue said. “He brings enthusiasm, excitement, knowledge and love of the game with a strong commitment to the Ola family. I look forward to seeing the Mustang football program continue to grow under his direction.”

Angel is a Florida native — he was on the football, track and field, weightlifting and ROTC teams at Bloomingdale High in Valrico, a suburb of Tampa — and played college football at Florida International and Valdosta State. He spent a year as a long snapper at FIU before transferring to Valdosta State in 2008.

While in Valdosta, he pulled double duty his first season as a defensive lineman on game days who practiced with the offensive line during the week for depth on that side of the ball. By the next season, he was a full-time center and offensive guard for the longtime powerhouse Blazers.

Angel began his coaching career at the middle school level in Valdosta and got his first varsity coaching job at Bacon County. He went to Newton as offensive coordinator and head wrestling coach, then coached both sports again at his next stop, Jeff Davis.

He has been at Loganville the last four years, both as head wrestling coach and an assistant football coach. He began as offensive line coach, and took an opportunity to coach defense the past three seasons, including a role as defensive coordinator in 2020. The Red Devils gave up 13.6 points in region play last season and made the state playoffs.

“I love Loganville and everything they’ve helped me out with and allowed me to do,” Angel said. “It was a great experience with them.”

As the school year finishes in Walton County, Angel turns his attention to his new job at Ola.

“Ola High School is a great place to raise a family,” Angel said. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of the community, be a part of the school and be able to work with these young men. It is a privilege and an honor to be able to coach these guys. To be able to meet them (this week), to meet the players and the parents, I have to thank the parents for allowing me to coach their kids. It’s an opportunity I don’t take lightly. Helping them through this game and developing them into quality young men who care for people is our goal.

“We’re going to have a program that’s disciplined and wants to help out the community any way we can. I’m excited to coach at Ola. It’s a dream come true.”

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