Drum Corps International
Blue Devils back atop the San Antonio ladder
Blue Devils perform on Saturday, July 22, during the 2017 DCI Southwestern Championship.Photo by: T. McCourt, DCI.org

Blue Devils back atop the San Antonio ladder

by Jeff Griffith

The only remaining unbeaten World Class corps stayed on top the leaderboard at the 2017 edition of the DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Fred J. Miller, Inc., as the Blue Devils took first place against a field of 23 corps.

Having finished in third place at 2016's San Antonio's event, this year's trip to the Alamodome brought a more favorable result. Finishing with a score of 90.100 in front of a record crowd of 14,788, the Devils once again found their stronghold in the visual caption, while owning the slimmest of leads in overall general effect and music.

“Tonight was like the first real competition in a way, because we don't really see all the other corps and it's the first real big gathering,” said Blue Devils snare drummer Alan Aungst. “Tonight felt pretty solid.”



Not far behind the Concord corps was its California rival, Santa Clara Vanguard (2nd, 89.625), which finished just 0.475 points off the lead while taking top honors in percussion.

Carolina Crown once again finished in third with a score of 89.175 while winning the brass caption and keeping a solid lead over the Bluecoats (4th, 88.025).

The Cavaliers finished first in the color guard caption, ending fifth overall with a score of 87.000.

Continuing to standout as one of the most improved scoring corps this season, the Boston Crusaders (6th, 85.575) brought the fire — and the smoke — which made an appearance as the newest visual effect added to the corps' production “Wicked Games.”

Once again Boston was able to fend off The Cadets (7th, 84.975), thanks to strong showings in general effect and total music.


Boston Crusaders


With a strong performance in San Antonio, however, The Cadets kept within striking distance of the top six, with its strength coming in the visual caption.

“We just had a fantastic run,” Cadets drum major Claire Albrecht said. “That's the run that we've been working for all week and honestly all season. You could just see it on the members' faces. We just had a beautiful performance.”

Not far behind the Crusaders and Cadets, another tight race for eighth continued between the Blue Knights and Phantom Regiment. The Rockford corps overtook its Rocky Mountain foe for just the second time this season, finishing in eighth place with a score of 83.350 to Blue Knights' ninth-place 82.525.

Another developing race continued to heat up in Texas, as the hometown Crossmen (10th, 80.250) topped the Blue Stars (11th, 80.050) for the second consecutive time after having finished behind their Wisconsin opponents in the previous six meetings.

The two have yet to be separated by more than a point in 10 head-to-head performances.

“Other than the World Championships, this has been my favorite show I've been to,” said Crossmen cymbal player Colton Huebel. “The massive crowd that shows up here in Texas know that this is Crossmen's home show, and seeing a lot of people out here supporting us is just the greatest feeling.”

Mandarins rounded out the top 12 with a score of 78.325, outscoring the Madison Scouts for the second time in as many meetings this season. The Sacramento corps' strength all season has been in the visual caption; they scored as high as ninth in color guard.


Madison Scouts


“It felt like a culmination of weeks of work just coming together all at one time,” said Jeremiah Wade, Mandarins' color guard captain. “We've had a lot of good practice and haven't had a lot of time off. We're just constantly pushing to get better no matter what."

Madison Scouts — which scored half-a-point behind the Mandarins in their first head-to-head meeting of the season on Thursday — finished three tenths back in Saturday's event with a 78.025. The Scouts topped Mandarins in percussion and brass, and maintained a bit of breathing room above The Academy (14th, 75.800).

Deadlocked on Thursday night in Belton, Texas, the Troopers (15th, 73.975) edged ahead of the Colts (16th, 73.675) for the first time this year by a hair-thin margin.

“From the minute I stepped on the podium and counted off the show, I just had a huge smile on my face from the top to the bottom of the show,” Troopers drum major Gabe Gallegos said.

Spirit of Atlanta (17th, 71.425) kept a slim lead over Pacific Crest (18th, 70.675) and Oregon Crusaders (19th, 70.150). This trio of corps was separated by just 0.45 points on Thursday in Denton.


Oregon Crusaders


Genesis, in its first Southwestern Championship appearance as a World Class corps, finished in 20th with a score of 67.900 just ahead of Seattle Cascades (21st, 67.000) in the two corps' first meeting this season.

“I felt really energetic about the whole performance, and the show seemed to go really well,” said Genesis snare drummer Emilio Pla. “It was a nice home show, too — Coming off the field after our first regional show as a World Class corps, it feels about as good as you might imagine.”

Rounding out the World Class standings were Jersey Surf (22nd, 63.525) and Pioneer (23rd, 61.225).

Guardians was the sole representative of the Open Class division finishing with a score of 58.925.

Saturday marked the Houston, Texas-based corps' second performance this season of the Houston, Texas-based ensemble's program, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,” which features the music of Kanye West.

“It's not exactly about Kanye as much as it's inspired by him,” said Justin Tremewan, Guardians' horn sergeant. “It's an amazing show, I never expected it to be as much fun as it was. When they first told us that we were doing Kanye music I was really worried about it, but it was 10 times better than anything I was expecting.”

With DCI's Texas Tour wrapping up Monday in Dallas, all 23 World Class corps will be headed east as the summer tour makes its way toward the DCI Southeastern Championship in Powder Springs, Georgia on Saturday, July 29.