Whether it was as a player on the 1993 Super Bowl team, as a coach at the turn of the century and again under Justin Kogler, then Bryce Guilbeault, or during his time between stints on Old Rochester Regional High School’s football staff, Dayne Johnson has been impacting the Bulldogs for years. All of that is about to change, even with his three children attending ORR and his wife Marissa serving as the ORR Youth Football president for over a decade.
Johnson is the new head coach at Upper Cape Tech.
“It’s such a great community, and I get ready every fall to do this so there is a little bit of bitter-sweetness walking away,” Johnson said. “But also, I am more than excited for the challenge of finally getting the opportunity to have my own program and be a head coach. That’s something that’s outweighing the negatives at this point.”
While this is Johnson’s first chance to run a high school program, it is not the first time he has thrown his name in the mix for the top job. He always had his eyes on his alma mater, but was never given the keys to drive the car.
With Guilbeault taking charge for the Bulldogs upon Kogler’s departure, Johnson saw the program was going to be set at the coaching position for the foreseeable future. He couldn’t pass up on the chance to coach at a school that still pulls students from one of the Tri-Town areas (Marion).
“(ORR) seemed like a perfect fit,” admitted Johnson. “(I) played there, ran the youth program, kind of just graduated into that role. But it just never came to fruition. So I wanted to, over the last 10 years or so, become a head coach. This last time that I didn’t get it, last year, it just seemed like — Bryce is a good coach, a good guy and he’s going be there a while. That broadened my search a little bit. I certainly didn’t want to go too far from home.
“And Upper Cape is growing, expanding. They’ve got new facilities over there. I feel like they’re getting athletes from multiple towns so someone could really, with the right direction, if they get the kids to buy in, it has certainly become a formidable program there.”
Along with his persistence, Johnson is in a position to take Upper Cape to another level because of his experience running program at multiple levels.
“I’ve had the luxury of coaching seven-year-olds all the way to 18-year-olds, and you get to have bonds with kids when you coach (them) very young,” he said. “And you get to understand, different kids at different ages or different levels. So, it’s going to be good for me (that) I’ve been through the whole gamut of coaching.”
As experienced as Johnson is, being the one calling the shots for a high school program is uncharted territory. He will face some challenges that he has not encountered before, but he has the confidence of at least one head coach he’s previously worked under.
“He’s done everything that he’s needed to do up to this point to show that he’s ready,” Kogler, now the head football coach at West Bridgewater High School, said. “He’s done so much for football in the Tri-Town area, Rochester area. He knows the game well. And I just think really what… makes people successful coaches in my opinion is communication skills and relationships, and I think that that’s really what he’s really good at.
“The kids in the program really liked him at Old Rochester, and the parents. He’s just a well-liked person. And he knows the game. He has a lot of experience with football. I think Upper Cape… that was a really good hire for them.”
By Nick Friar