Marching Cougars state bound again
It was a bittersweet moment Saturday for two of Harrison County’s marching bands when the names of the 10 Class C bands advancing to state were announced.
Twenty bands from throughout the state had competed at Devere Fair Stadium at Decatur Central High School at semi-state of the Indiana State School Music Association’s competition. It was the nicest of the three ISSMA events (district on Oct. 1 and regional on Oct. 15), with sunny skies, a light breeze and the temperature near 60 degrees.
The field commanders were lined up on the track, in performance order. Behind them, in random order, for the first time since ISSMA added the semi-state level in 2008, were the senior members from the bands.
The seniors from North Harrison and Corydon Central high schools had been visiting with each other prior to going onto the football field and opted to stand next to each for the announcements.
‘You had to be winners to get here today,’ the announcer said before a hush fell over the crowd and the names of the top 10 bands were announced.
One band from the first five was named. That was followed by the next three, which included the North Harrison Marching Cougars, in the second group of five. The announcer, skipping over the Corydon Central Vanguard, named the bands that performed 12th, 13th and 14th, before also naming the ones that performed 16th, 18th and 20th.
It was the first time since 2006 that the Marching Cougars have advanced to state. They won their class in 1999 and 2000. The Vanguard’s last trip to state was in 2003.
The Marching Cougars were missing one senior member, whose mother had died two days earlier of cancer. Her funeral was at about the same time the band was performing. In her memory, the band members, staff and crew wore white ribbons. The senior members had said prior to the announcement of which bands would advance that they wanted one more Saturday so their fellow classmate could perform again with them.
A huddled mass of seniors, with a few underclassmen, used a cell phone to call the bass drum player to share the news.
Jim Jones, now in his second year as director of the Marching Cougars, said he thought his band had ‘a little more motivation’ to do well in hopes of advancing.
‘We had everything for the first time in a couple of weeks,’ he said, referring to not using all of their props at district and regional due to windy conditions. ‘I couldn’t have been more pleased.’
He mentioned that several students were dealing with a stomach virus.
Jones also had to reassure the band members that they would not be penalized after one ISSMA official incorrectly told the prop crew they could begin setting up. It was their mistake, Jones said, not the Marching Cougars.
Josh Stewart, the Vanguard’s director since 2005, was pleased with his group’s performance.
‘It was great,’ he said. ‘By far, their best of the year.’
The week prior to semi-state, Stewart said they worked on suggestions made by judges at regional and ‘just cleaned stuff up.’
The Vanguard was a young group this year, with eight seniors.
‘They were a great group of seniors and a special one to me as they were my first group of sixth graders that I started,’ he said. ‘We are certainly expecting good things next season as everyone will have an extra year of experience. Plus, we will be working hard with concert band, jazz band, winter guard and winter drumline. Never a dull moment.’
Assisting Stewart this season were Blair Winslow, Matt Uhteg, Emily Pease, Annastasi Fafalos, Darrel Williamson and Adam Miller. Field commander was Derek Bryant, and soloists for the show were Becca Dirck, Sam Bowman, Kurtis Dowling, Rebecca Mathes, Sean Albin and Zach Dixon.
State competition will begin at 10 a.m. in Lucas Oil Stadium. Admission is $20 for adults and $18 for students and preschoolers.
The Marching Cougars drew the sixth slot in Class C.
‘Love the draw,’ Jones said Monday afternoon after returning from a directors’ meeting with ISSMA officials. ‘You always pray you are not the first one on, and we have missed that bullet every week.’
This week, Jones’ group has been preparing by focusing on the judges’ comments.
‘I told the band last night the pressure is off and just enjoy the ride,’ Jones said.
Here is the complete line-up for Saturday’s state finals:
Class D ‘ Monrovia, 10 a.m.; Eastern (Greentown), 10:13 a.m.; Woodlan, 10:26 a.m.; Northeast Posey, 10:39 a.m.; Evansville Mater Dei, 10:52 a.m.; Springs Valley, 11:05 a.m.; Forest Park, 11:18 a.m.; Lewis Cass, 11:31 a.m.; Bluffton, 11:44 a.m.; Paoli, 11:57 a.m.; awards, 12:10 p.m.
Class B ‘ Greenwood, 1:15 p.m.; Plainfield, 1:28 p.m.; Dekalb, 1:41 p.m.; Munster, 1:54 p.m.; Goshen, 2:07 p.m.; North Side (Fort Wayne), 2:20 p.m.; Concord, 2:20 p.m.; Northview, 2:46 p.m.; Jasper, 2:59 p.m.; Floyd Central, 3:12 p.m.; awards, 3:20 p.m.
Class C ‘ Western, 4:30 p.m.; Edgewood, 4:43 p.m.; Leo, 4:56 p.m.; Fairfield, 5:09 p.m.; Concordia Lutheran (Fort Wayne), 5:22 p.m.; North Harrison, 5:35 p.m.; Gibson Southern, 5:48 p.m.; Beech Grove, 6:01 p.m.; Heritage Hills, 6:14 p.m.; Norwell, 6:27 p.m.; awards, 6:40 p.m.
Class A ‘ Avon, 7:40 p.m.; Lawrence Central, 7:53 p.m.; Penn, 8:06 p.m.; Custer, 8:19 p.m.; Franklin Central, 8:32 p.m.; Center Grove, 8:45 p.m.; Lake Central, 8:58 p.m.; Ben Davis, 9:11 p.m.; Carmel, 9:24 p.m.; Homestead (Fort Wayne), 9:37 p.m.; awards, 9:50 p.m.