BROCKTON – Dan Buron arrived early at his office Saturday, putting the finishing touches on his preparation for his team’s opponent that afternoon, which happened to be rival Brockton.
The lead-up to a game is nothing new for the longtime Bridgewater-Raynham football coach. He went through it exactly 300 times previously prior to the Trojans showdown with the Boxers.
But as Buron clicked off the film of Brockton and readied himself for game No. 301 as a head coach, there was only one thing different. He knew it would be his final game with the Trojans.
“I sat in my office by myself for about an hour and just reflected and realized I’m a lucky guy,” Buron said. “I have a beautiful family, I have great friends and I’ve been fortunate to coach at Bridgewater-Raynham, my alma mater.”
Buron, who graduated from B-R in 1980 before playing football at Holy Cross, took over the Trojans in 1993 and after 28 years retired from his coaching post following the final whistle versus the Boxers. Buron will also step down from his athletic director duties in July.
What a run it was for Buron even if it didn’t end in glory with the Trojans losing out on a chance to send the coach out on a winning note and with a Southeast Conference title in hand by falling to Brockton, 28-19, at Marciano Stadium.
But Buron, who compiled a 207-92-2 career record (.691 winning percentage) and won two Eastern Mass. Super Bowl titles in 1998 and 2000, did his share of winning throughout his tenure. And nobody knew that better than Brockton coach Peter Colombo.
“Danny beat me more than I beat him,” Colombo said. “It’s nice to get this last one. His career is what it is. It’s phenomenal. My hats off to him. Much respect.”
While the spotlight has been fixated on Buron in his final season, he’d rather have it focused on his team. He doesn’t see himself as the one entitled to all the triumphs and success of his program even though he was at the head of it and he thanked all those, including his family, who helped make his time at B-R special.
“Start with all the players I coached over the years. Just outstanding young men. A lot of them are older, which means I’m older,” Buron said. “Coaching staff over the years (has been) great. The communities have been great. I’ve been blessed. I don’t like to take any of the credit because there are so many people in the organization that work together and it’s been easy for me because of so much support.”
Buron’s old-school style still resonated with his players even after nearly three decades on the job. Anthony Morrison remembers coming in as timid freshman, but leaves as one of the program’s more decorated players after running for 1,219 yards and 13 touchdowns in five games this season.
Morrison credited Buron’s guidance for developing him into a star running back, which helped Morrison continue his football career as he will play next year at Williams College.
“You hear the stories of him yelling on the sidelines, but in my opinion, he’s a big teddy bear,” Morrison said. “He’s got a heart of gold. He’s really out for us. Best coach I’ve ever had. I couldn’t ask for anything more from him.”
Buron stuck to his convictions as a coach, never trying to be influenced by outside factors. He admits his decisions didn’t always win him a popularity contest, but he stayed true to himself and tried to put his players in the best position possible.
“Everybody that ever put a B-R uniform on, there’s been a lot of them, have a special place in my heart,” Buron said. “I hope I did them all right. I didn’t please everybody, but I didn’t try to. We did what we wanted to do. I always respected our opponents. I have the utmost respect for these guys. It is what is. It’s really not about me. It’s about these kids because they played their hearts out to the bitter end. Just came up short.”
Buron expected Brockton to be his final opponent, but not in April. Buron decided before the pandemic that this would his final season, and the coach, who holds Thanksgiving Day rivalries in high regard, thought he would go out on the holiday.
But COVID-19 brought a much different final season for Buron, filled with face coverings and social distancing, but still enjoyable.
“I’m so proud of these kids with just how the year went for everybody, not just Bridgewater-Raynham,” Buron said. “It’s been a crazy year.”
Buron’s fire for the game certainly hasn’t waned. It just takes one glance at the sideline to see him passionately commanding instructions and debating calls with referees.
Despite leaving B-R, he still feels like he has more coaching left in him. He plans to take the fall off, but didn’t rule out returning to coach somewhere else the season after that.
“I’d like to be back,” Buron said. “I like coaching. I just need to take a little time off for myself. I think I learned that last fall when I had weekends off for the first time.”
As Buron walked off the field for the final time as coach of B-R, he did exactly what he has asked his players to do for the last 28 years and gave everything he had to his team and the game.
“It’s just time for me,” Buron said. “My time at Bridgewater-Raynham is over. I have no regrets.”