The Concordia Lutheran Marching Cadets followed up their second-place finish last year with the only thing better – a state championship in Class C.
It was the first-ever first-place finish for Concordia. And Director Dianne Moellering got a win after 21 years leading the band.
The 73-member band used the theme "One Mission" to focus on key Christian words. The routine was most powerful during the ballad when showcasing simple placards that bore words such as bless, believe, hope, listen and teach.
"They hit it," Moellering said, well before being awarded the victory. "I just told them to do their best and remember our only goal is to praise God and touch people."
One security guard proved they did just that by singing along with a hymn during the performance.
"It was awesome," said Sharon Hollis, whose 15-year-old daughter Leandrah Miller is in the color guard. "A lot of commitment but it was worth it. I knew it. I felt the energy."
The 86 members of the Norwell Marching Knights earned a fifth-place finish in Class C. They began their performance entitled "Roots" by lofting an acorn high. The audience then saw a 12-foot prop tree "grow" during the movements of the music.
The color guard used flags that featured leaves while the band itself showed off crisp marching maneuvers.
Director Cory Kelley is in his second year with the powerhouse band, which has been crowned champion three times and runner-up twice in the last 15 years.
The Angola Marching Hornets finished eighth. They placed a colorful tarp on the group showing the hands of Michelangelo's Adam to demonstrate its theme of "Reaching Out."
Throughout the routine, band members stretched their hands to the sky. Angola also had a large cheering section that enjoyed a crescendo-moment about mid-performance.
Director Kevin Fogle is in his 14th year with the band, which has 80 kids. The band finished eighth last year.
Homestead 3rd in Class A
The Homestead Spartan Alliance took home a third-place trophy for its magical “Night Circus” theme, which began with whimsical music. The color guard included both circus actors as well as fans who eventually join the circus.
But the highlight was clearly the finish in which the entire 291-member band moves into a tight formation and ends with a powerful burst of sound. “It’s high velocity movement mixed with intense music,” Director Steve Barber said.
Homestead has made the state finals 27 years in a row and taken home a number of state titles, most recently in 2011. “We just worry about what we do and how we do it,” Barber said. “There’s an expectation of excellence. They step up to the plate and handle it well.”
The Carroll Charger Pride had a large cheering contingent in the stands for their first return to the state finals since 2006. They placed 10th in the Class A competition. The 165-member band performed “Guardian Angel” as the color guard used flags bearing angel wings and the band moved fluidly between movements of the inspirational music.
Drum Major Luisa Morales, 17, found herself momentarily speechless after the performance, saying she loved the emotional ending the best. “I am so glad I was able to experience it with my band and my family,” she said, noting Saturday was her birthday. “It will be a great birthday no matter what happens.”
Director Doug Hassell is in his second year with the band.
Adams Central 5th in Class D
The Adams Central Squadron of Sound tied for fifth in the Class D competition – its highest-ever result.
The band's theme was "Celebrating Innovation," which highlighted key moments in time such as inventing the airplane and the arrival of the digital age.
Director Mike Satterthwaite led the 60-member group who has been to state finals two other times.
No other area schools competed in this class.
Forest Park - 1
Springs Valley -2
Paoli - 3
Lewis Cass - 4
Adams Central - tie 5th
Monrovia – tie 5th
Mater Dei - 7
South Spencer - 8
Eastern - 9
Orleans - 10
DeKalb 7th in Class B
Just one area band competed in the Class B competition - the DeKalb Baron Brigade, which garnered a 7th place finish in the contest.
The group introduced the crowd to its county, including the four cities and town that feed into the school. Large pictures of the area, from a smiley-face water tower to the county courthouse, decorated the field.
Director Terry Fisher decided on a more intimate, local theme because "I Am DeKalb" has been the slogan of the corporation for several years and the students relate to it.
During the performance, members of the 124-person band took to a microphone to talk about the community as a family. The end of the show was punctuated with a chant of "We Are DeKalb."
"I have no doubt they put out the best show they could," said a proud Fisher.
DeKalb returned to the state finals this year after a one-year hiatus.
Plymouth - 10th