The Falmouth-Yarmouth boys’ soccer rivalry produced unmatched drama for decades, but with Falmouth joining the SMAA, the teams will no longer square off in countable games.
FALMOUTH—When Dave Halligan started coaching boys’ basketball and boys’ soccer at his alma mater 30 years ago, Falmouth High School was the smallest public school in Class C.
Starting next school year, Halligan and the Yachtsmen will be competing in the Southwestern Maine Activities Association, home to the biggest schools in the state.
Thursday, Falmouth, along with Kennebunk, had its application for entry into the SMAA approved and beginning in September, the Yachtsmen will do battle with the likes of Cheverus, Deering, Portland, South Portland and Thornton Academy in almost every sport.
“Moving to the SMAA allows us to play the best competition possible,” said Falmouth athletic director James Coffey. “This will prepare us better for the state tournament.”
Falmouth has been in athletic limbo the past three-plus years, playing a Western Maine Conference regular season schedule against Class B (and some Class C) teams, then moving up to play Class A squads from the SMAA in the postseason.
Starting next season, the Yachtsmen will be battling potential postseason foes as part of their regular season slate.
Falmouth baseball coach Kevin Winship said he was very happy about the change and even though the Yachtsmen more than held their own in the Class A playoffs (they got to the state final last spring), he said it’s time to meet the SMAA schools in April and May, not just in June.
“I’m extremely excited,” Winship said. “I think it’s great for the school and great for the baseball program. I’m glad we got voted in.
“It’s been a disadvantage playing teams we don’t normally see in the playoffs. It never made sense to me for us to have to play a Class B schedule, then Class A in the playoffs. Now it’ll be fair. Everyone in the SMAA will play each other once.”
While the announcement was met favorably for the most part, the downside is that Falmouth will no longer play ancient rivals like Cape Elizabeth, Greely and Yarmouth in sports other than football, basketball, hockey and lacrosse (which already play crossover games between conferences).
“There are pros and cons,” Halligan said. “We’ll definitely miss the old rivalries, but we look forward to a new challenge. We don’t care who we play. The top teams in the SMAA and the top teams in the Western Maine Conference are very similar.”
Beginning in September, the SMAA will number 18 schools.
As it once did in Class C and Class B , look for Falmouth to quickly become a power in Class A.
“We need to get stronger and faster,” Coffey said. “It will be a great challenge for our program. We’re very exited to compete.”