Blue Devils keep perfect season alive in Denver
The Blue Devils kept their 2017 undefeated streak intact on Saturday night in Denver, in the California corps' first head-to-head meeting with the defending World Champion Bluecoats this season.
With a score of 85.000, the Devils edged the Canton, Ohio corps by 1.15 points at Sports Authority Field at Mile High to become the first corps this season to hit the 85-point milestone.
The Devils have put together an impressive string of nine straight victories so far this summer; the only World Class corps to still be undefeated over four weeks of competition.
“It was just ‘wow' — I'm completely ecstatic,” said Blue Devils drum major Brandon Wood after coming off the field. “Everybody immediately was just hyped. It was a great runthrough, probably the best one yet.”
Remaining in contention in an ultra-tight competitive race that's developing as corps march into the second half of the 2017 DCI Tour, Bluecoats (2nd, 83.850) showed high marks in the percussion caption on Saturday.
“(Tonight's performance) was very, very energized to say the least,” Bluecoats drum major Graham Hopkins said. “The minute we stepped off the buses, all the members were just glowing.”
Hopkins said there was high anticipation coming into Denver as the first time his corps would go head-to-head with the Blue Devils.
“It always kind of amps up the energy when you have (the Blue Devils) here,” he said. “Their resume speaks for itself and it's just a really awesome opportunity to not only compete on the same field as them but to also see what they've been doing.”
The Blue Knights took third with a score of 79.100 at the annual Drums Along the Rockies event, eager to entertain a hometown crowd both during the competitive performance of their 2017 production “i,” and as corps members returned to the field to close out the night with a special encore performance.
“Tonight was beautiful,” said Blue Knights drum major Sarah Jones. “It was exactly what we've been working toward, especially for our home show ... Our job is to create art on the field and share it with everybody around us, and that's exactly what we did.”
Jones said performing in Denver was a nostalgic and meaningful experience for her and the Blue Knights who have spent the majority of their 2017 season to date on the west coast.
“I'm from Denver and I absolutely love this city,” she said. “I have so many memories here watching the Blue Knights, and it's just been wonderful being back. I've missed it.”
Rained out of their performances on Friday night in Casper, Wyoming, Mandarins (4th, 74.550) and Troopers (5th, 70.250) were excited to be back on the football field Saturday night as they continued their tours through the Rocky Mountain region.
Pacific Crest (6th, 69.000) edged ahead of Oregon Crusaders (7th, 68.800) by two tenths of a point, with Seattle Cascades finishing in eighth with a score of 65.900.
Cascades' director Michael Tran said his corps' eagerness to perform within the expansive confines of Mile High truly shined in Saturday's run of the corps' production, “Set Free.”
“This being their first really big show, I think there was just so much excitement and energy coming out from the corps,” he said. “The wonderful thing about performing is that you forget about everything outside it, and for 11 minutes, you get to just perform in front of an appreciative crowd.”
Two Open Class corps also made the trip to Denver on Saturday, marking their final performances of an abbreviated regional tour schedule.
Having recently earned the highest score in the history of the corps, The Battalion put the perfect punctuation mark on its shortened season, achieving another personal best of 59.100 for the young second-year corps out of Salt Lake City.
“The corps tonight threw down,” drum major Kylie Lincoln said. “They did what we've been working for this season, and tonight was the capstone of it all. The energy was great and they all were doing it for each other and it was my privilege to conduct them today.”
The Tri-Cities, Washington-based Columbians (2nd, 57.100) also wrapped up its season at Sports Authority Field, after six performances this season that brought the corps to Washington, Idaho, Utah and Colorado.
“With a short season, we only have a certain amount of time to prepare a ‘Finals-ready' show,” drum major Cole Lobdell said. “To be able to have that culminating moment of excellence and wonder today is just amazing.”
While these two Open Class corps will head back home ending their successful seasons, the World Class corps in Denver's lineup will start traveling south this week as the DCI Tour heads into its annual Texas swing. Kickoff events are scheduled in Belton and Denton on Thursday, July 20, before all 23 of DCI's World Class corps face each other for the first time this season on Saturday, July 22 in San Antonio.