Dave Halligan has enjoyed many memorable years over his four decade-plus coaching career.

But 2019-20 stood alone.

Halligan didn’t just lead Falmouth’s boys’ soccer team to its first Class A state championship and the boys’ basketball squad to an unexpected appearance in the Class A South Final.

Along the way, he also eclipsed the 1,000-combined career victory plateau.

That’s rarefied air indeed and in light of those accomplishments, Dave Halligan is our choice for the Varsity Maine Coach of the Year award, for a boys’ team.

“It really was a pretty good year,” said Halligan, who boasts 475 victories and 12 state championships in soccer and 538 wins and six Gold Balls in basketball, as well as 19 victories in two seasons as Falmouth’s softball coach at the start of the century. “Winning soccer felt like we were the best of the best. Beating Lewiston (in the final) with all they’ve done. It felt good to beat a team that good.

“(Basketball) didn’t get the result we wanted (losing to York), but I was so pleased with the effort of the kids. Those kids overcame a lot with injuries the past couple of years.”

Halligan has had a front-row seat and has played an integral role in Falmouth’s evolution from a small Class C school into one of the powers in Class A.

Halligan played soccer, basketball and baseball at Falmouth High, went on to play soccer and basketball at the University of Southern Maine, got his degree in physical education from the University of Maine, then, after teaching and coaching in the Portland school system and at Cape Elizabeth, he returned to his alma mater in 1987 where he has enjoyed great success.

Autumn after autumn.

Winter after winter.

When Halligan became their coach, the Yachtsmen were the smallest public school in Class C. but Falmouth managed to win games with regularity and after some early heartbreak in regional and state game contests, the Yachtsmen became consistent champions as well.

“I’m proud that we’ve had a lot of good players and good programs for a lot of years,” Halligan said. “I find a lot of joy in coaching at the high school level. I love seeing how kids develop from freshmen to seniors and how they grow as people.”

Mike Hagerty, the longtime coach of the juggernaut Yarmouth boys’ soccer program, once had Halligan as a kindergarten physical education teacher. The two became rivals when the Clippers and Yachtsmen were vying for championships before later working together in premier soccer.

Hagerty feels that Halligan’s flair for innovation sets him apart.

“I think (Dave is) the smartest coach in Maine, but he doesn’t think like that and he still looks to get better,” Hagerty said. “Dave has been forward-thinking for decades. Back in the 70s and 80s, every coach ran the same system. Dave was the first guy to do little things like move players around mid-game and confuse other teams. I saw that it worked and mimicked that. Soccer is always defense-minded, but he was one of the first to play with three forwards and press other teams. No one ever attacked Lewiston like he did in that state final.”

Halligan, 68, has retired from teaching physical education at Falmouth Middle School, but he plans to return to the sidelines as soon as he and the rest of high school sports gets the green light.

“I’ll coach as long as I have my health and as long as I enjoy it,” Halligan said. “I have a great group coming back in both soccer and basketball.”

That means yet another memorable year is likely in store.

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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