ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The last time the Blue Devils and Bluecoats met, the Concord corps went home with a gold medal and its 18th DCI World Championship trophy.
It’s been about 48 weeks since, but the two corps that lit up the top of the standings in 2016, once again, appeared to be locked in a heated race going into the back half of the 2018 season.
“These corps are doing so well this year,” Blue Devils drum major Everett Kim said. “We’re finally meeting up with Crown’s brass and we’re finally meeting the Bluecoats and their whole show design, it’s a good way for us to push ourselves and light a fire under our own butts to just go for it even more.”
The Blue Devils (87.350), at the DCI Midwestern Championship presented by DeMoulin Bros. & Co., took first place. In doing so, they stretched their head-to-head win streak to 15 meetings with the Bluecoats (87.125), dating back to the beginning of last season.
But the gap between the two — just 0.225 — is extremely close. Sunday marked just the second time it’s been tighter than a full point in the past year.
“I'm glad to see Blue Devils here, and I think everyone else is, too,” Bluecoats drum major Kolyn Wentzell said. I know in two days we'll see Santa Clara Vanguard coming up too, but, I don't know, there’s just something really special about the Bluecoats this year in how we’re vibing with each other. And I totally dig it. I really do.”
For the Blue Devils, the visual caption was clearly the strength in St. Louis. But Bluecoats’ wins in brass, music analysis, and, most importantly, general effect, kept things close between first and second.
“We’ve been in the calm before the storm,” Kim said. “Now that we’re finally meeting up with all these big heavy-hitter drum corps, we’re really gearing up and setting ourselves in the mindset to be the best that we can always on and off the field.”
Of course, there’s still plenty of competition left to unfold at the top, namely the addition of Santa Clara Vanguard into the mix, which will happen for the first time Tuesday in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
While it’s yet to be seen how Vanguard will fare against the Bluecoats, the corps won three of its five meetings with the Blue Devils out in California early in the season, never by more than 0.75 points.
“It’s really real now,” Kim said. “We’re not living in our west coast bubble, we’re now in it for real. For a lot of people, especially our first-year members, it’s a wake-up call to really get in and get it going. It’s a great competition this year, and it’s going to be close.”
Of course, nothing’s set in stone, and a lot will be cleared up in the weeks ahead. The Blue Devils, Bluecoats and Santa Clara Vanguard will compete with each other twice before facing the bright lights of the DCI Southwestern Championship presented by Lone Star Percussion, Saturday in San Antonio.
With a chance to avenge back-to-back losses against its Bay Area rival, are the Blue Devils ready to meet up with Vanguard?
“Hell yes,” Kim said. “We’re excited.”