This past weekend “the other Fall Sport” in Texas got under way with the 30th Annual Plano East Marching Invitational. Twenty three bands from across North Texas converged on Clark Stadium in Plano to unveil their 2011 show programs. North Texas has long been a hotbed of competition for UIL Marching Bands. Six of the first seven places at State in last year’s 5A division were occupied by North Texas Marching Bands with Marcus taking the title over other notables including Duncanville who came home with bronze. This year’s Plano East Marching Invitational would see perennial 4A favorites Wylie and Mesquite Poteet(4A bronze medalist in their last run at State) go head to head for the “Best in Class” 4A while McKinney Boyd and the Goliath Allen Eagle band(500+ members) took aim at State favorite Duncanville.
The unique format of the Plano East Festival begins with preliminary class competition and then allows the ten highest scoring bands, regardless of class, to compete against each other for the title of Grand Champion. This gives the smaller schools such as Melissa, MHS or Poteet the opportunity to go up against Class 5A powerhouses like Duncanville and Allen High school.
While the Prelims crown a best overall winner in Class, they also name “Best in Class” for Music, Winds, Percussion, Marching, General Effect, Color Guard and Drum Major. In previous years the Royal Pride had finished as high as 3rd in Percussion and 2nd in Music. Last year Wylie and Poteet garnered all the “Best in Class” categories between them shutting out all other 4A bands. Like a veritable young sports team with talent who makes the playoffs for the first time the Royal Pride was, “Just happy to score well enough” to make the March off for Grand Champion last year.
Competing in Class 4A, MHS took the field for competition at 3:30 p.m. This year’s program entitled, “Time” is an original score written for the Royal Pride by MISD Faubion Band Director Brian Beck. The score is dynamic and the marching difficult, intricate and at times quick paced. The program is contemplative yet carries a touch of whimsy throughout.
The band has worked very hard this year and both Drum Majors interviewed noted in their own words that there was a lot of nervous energy, excitement and determination in the Band on the field last Saturday.
The Royal Pride came out of the gates strong and held their lines well (though not perfectly) throughout the constant movement of the piece. Even though music was also fairly even and tone mostly good there was room for improvement. Senior Drum Major Maggie Korte noted that, “We did well in the prelims but knew it wasn’t our best.” This year the Royal Pride has already shown a pension for expecting a lot from themselves. The judging cadre’s critiques would later confirm Korte’s statement about where improvement was needed. However, when it came time to count the points, that expectation of excellence in themselves had paid dividends. To the screams and yells of Royal Pride band members in the stands, Senior Drum Majors Nick Mills, Maggie Korte and Carly Prince racked and stacked the following “Best in Class” 4A trophies on the 35 yard line at Clark Stadium; Best Woodwinds, Best Percussion, Best Marching and Best Drum Majors. Wylie grabbed Best General Effect and Poteet took home Best Color guard. MHS also took home the big prize as Best Marching Band in Class 4A with Wylie taking second and Poteet getting the third spot.
Drum Major Maggie Korte said, “The feeling(taking 1st in Class 4A and four of the six Caption/Sectionals) was just unbelievable!” For the band that previously had not won a single Best in Class caption award, let alone the over all Best in Class Marching Band in 4A, the Royal Pride was given one more reason to expend tremendous amounts of wild energy. As the announcer called out the order for competition in the Grand Finale the Royal Pride received the final slot for the evening, ranking them as the highest scoring band in preliminaries in front Duncanville who was seeded second. “We had never made first place in Class 4A so to beat out the other 4A and 5A schools going into the Grand Finale was just amazing!” noted Korte. Added Mills, “I knew we had done well(in prelims) but to beat Duncanville and Poteet? The whole thing was surreal!”
Both Wylie and Poteet scored high enough to join The Royal Pride for the night show and step it up against the other seven 5A schools including Allen and State 5A Bronze medalist Duncanville.
For Open Finals the top 10 scoring bands in prelims regardless of Class (3A-5A) face off for the opportunity to claim the title of Grand Champion. No points are carried forward as the bands are essentially starting even again. Band Directors also receive the Judging cadre critiques from their preliminary round which allow them to consider changes prior to the Open Final.
Slated to perform at 9:30 p.m. MHS watched as the evening’s partly cloudy skis and rust sunset turned overcast and dark. Mother Nature began pelting the field with a driving rain and gusty northerly winds at 9:10. Both the veteran Duncanville Panther Band and the exuberant Royal Pride fought their way through the wind and spattering rain, running their shows for the second time. The effort and determination paid off for both bands as they finished in front of the other eight.
Duncanville showed their experience by cleaning up their Best in Class 5A prelim performance, providing the crowd with a smooth, in sync program showcasing great flair and effect. The Royal Pride changed some choreography and hung turn for turn and step for step with Duncanville, faltering slightly in a few small areas of their program to finish second to the Panther band in the finale. “That Wylie Band” edged out the McKinney Boyd Broncos for the final spot on the podium, putting two 4A bands in the top three spots. Senior Drum Major Nick Mills confessed to seeing, “Nervous energy in Finals – We did so well but there were some small mistakes made in finals that this band never makes.” Obviously the excitement of success in the prelims carried itself a little beyond containment in the Grand Finale. Drum Major Maggie Korte agreed that while the Royal Pride stepped it up and performed better in the Grand Finale than in prelims she saw, “minor timing issues”. She noted that, “The band tried to relax and not force tone and sound.” And while there were small fractions of tone and movement miscue here and there which is all it took for Duncanville to “sog past” MHS in the rain for Grand Champion, much pride was had in the fact that, “We placed second to one of the best 5A bands in the State”. Mills agreed noting, “Coming up short in finals was a little saddening but under no circumstance are we disappointed or discouraged in how we did. Then pulling a page out of the Humble Band Directors Press Interview Book Mills went on praising both the Royal Pride and the competition as he remarked, “Duncanville, Wylie and Poteet are fantastic bands and great programs. That we were able to beat our 4A class rivals and challenge Duncanville for 1st place is a great accomplishment. Korte agreed, “I’m very proud of the band!”
Both Korte and Mills are looking forward to UIL this coming Saturday. From Mills, “There is no room to step back – we have to get better every day!” Korte wants the band to, “Leave absolutely NO question that we deserve all 1s at UIL.”
Well gentlemen, It would appear that your FISH have grown up and are ready take the band swimming with the sharks.
For those following The Royal Pride the past four years this was clearly their best Invitational performance by far. One MHS booster, stumbling for words noted,” This program… the show this year is… it’s just… further along to being perfected at this point in the marching season than other programs normally have been. A McKinney Boyd booster leaned over and commented, “It’s as if… they believe more in themselves than I’ve seen in the past.”
And that my friends IS the definition of “Royal Pride.”
The MHS Royal Pride Band will be back in action this weekend at John Clark Stadium, Plano for UIL. They are scheduled to go on under the lights at 7:15 p.m. This coming Saturday, October 15. Do you have children interested in marching band? Come watch The Pride of McKinney as they go against some of the best 4A bands in the State like “That Wylie Band” and Mesquite Poteet.
Editor’s Note: Don’t miss the terrific Image Gallery and Video below.