Larry Dolan was hired in April as Oak Grove’s defensive coordinator, and even though Dolan’s known best for his ties to Forrest County, he was no stranger to his new school and its football program.
“I went to school at Forrest County AHS, and Oak Grove used to be a big rival back in the early 1980’s,” Dolan said. “We had some big baseball battles with them and in football as well.”
After playing baseball at Pearl River Community College and serving in the United States Air Force four years, Dolan made his way back to Brooklyn as an assistant under his high school coach, Perry Wheat. Dolan was eventually hired to succeed Wheat in 2000 and went on to coach the Aggies for 13 years, including the 2013 season in which the team captured the school’s first-ever state championship.
It was during that long, successful tenure where Dolan and future Oak Grove head coach Drew Causey became acquainted. Causey, who was an assistant coach at PRCC at the time, got to know Dolan and some of his teams through the recruiting process.
“I was always really impressed with how hard his football teams played,” Causey said. “They may not be the most talented every week, but he [Dolan] always did a good job with them and they always responded really well.”
After that memorable 2013 season, Dolan left FCAHS to coach two seasons at Columbia Academy. Two years later, he accepted the head football coach and athletic director job at Pearl River Central. Dolan coached the Blue Devils for two seasons before retiring after the 2017 season.
Still, he never closed the door on coaching again. It had to be the right situation and closer to home. Dolan actually never moved from Hattiesburg after departing FCAHS and was traveling about an hour one-way, every day to Pearl River Central.
“That was just too much time away from my wife and all,” Dolan said.
Then, in the spring, the opportunity at Oak Grove presented itself. It would allow him to remain retired and still work part-time as an assistant on Causey’s staff.
“I’ve worn that so-called gold whistle for a long time,” Dolan said. “I’m here to help Drew and the rest of the staff and do what I can to be a part of this.
“When I first took over [at FCAHS], we were the smallest 3A school in the state. We took some lumps, playing the Moss Point’s, the Gautier’s and the Laurel’s of the world. Then about the last nine years, people expected us to be in the playoffs and go deep every year. I think that’s what people expect here at Oak Grove. You wanna be at a place like this, you don’t wanna be at a place where expectations are low.”
In the early stages, through spring ball and summer workouts, Causey believes the addition of Dolan was a home run hire.
“There’s some things that we’ve sat up here in the summer time until 5 o’clock in the afternoon when the kids were long gone, just talking football,” Causey said. “He [Dolan] just brings a lot to the table.”
As for early expectations for the Oak Grove defense, Dolan says the Warriors will often run a multiple scheme with hopes of putting a hard-hitting, relentless unit on the field. He also admits that in the last six months, in an effort to sharpen his football acumen, he’s read more football books and watched more videos than he has in a long time. Dolan has in fact spent the majority of his 30-year coaching career on the offensive side.
“I feel like I’m still learning, and when I get tired of learning, I’ll shut it down and go home. Right now it’s still fun.”