Drum Corps International
Blue Devils continue winning ways in Stanford
Blue Devils take the field Saturday night at Stanford Stadium.Photo by: Drum Corps International

Blue Devils continue winning ways in Stanford

by Chris Weber

Blue Devils tagged another victory onto an impressive winning streak, taking first place against a field of five other World Class corps in Stanford, California on Saturday.

With a score of 73.450, this is seventh time in the last nine years that the Devils have finished first at the DCI West event at Stanford Stadium. Tonight’s victory continues a winning streak for the corps that dates back to June of 2014.

Santa Clara Vanguard finished more than a point and a half behind in second place with a score of 71.900. The corps’ 2014 award-winning percussion section continues to put up impressive numbers in 2015, besting the Blue Devils’ line on Saturday in the Percussion caption by four tenths of a point.

“It was totally solid tonight,” Vanguard percussion caption head Paul Rennick said. “[Stanford Stadium] is as big as any of the biggest stadiums we’ll play in during the late part of the season. It’s a challenge to fill up this place, but they did a great job. We’re having a great season.”

More than 2,000 miles from home, tonight marked the first time since 2012 that Phantom Regiment has traveled west to take part in the early-season California events. The corps from Rockford, Illinois placed third with a score of 68.050.

Members of the Denver Blue Knights made a marked improvement in just a matter of a day, taking fourth place with a score of 66.400, a full point ahead of their score posted last night in Fresno.

Pacific Crest (5th, 61.000) and the Mandarins (6th, 59.850) rounded out the World Class competition, also improving their scores in a 24-hour timeframe.

In a switch of placements from yesterday in Fresno, in Open Class competition the Vanguard Cadets pulled ahead of Blue Devils B by almost a point, winning 57.600 to 56.800. While Blue Devils B took first in the overall visual and overall music captions, Vanguard Cadets’ 1.3-point spread in General Effect pushed them into first place.

The Vanguard Cadets and Blue Devils B have been fierce rivals in recent years, trading placements throughout the summer and World Championship titles.  The Vanguard Cadets took home the Open Class gold medal in 2013 by a quarter of a point, while Blue Devils B took the title in 2014 by just over seven tenths.

“It’s really early season and it’s back and forth,” Blue Devils B director Rick Odello said. “The Vanguard Cadets have always been a very good competitor and it drives us. We’ve got another show tomorrow and the day after that.“

2015 will mark Golden Empire’s second season as an Open Class corps, and in its first trip to Stanford Stadium, the group finished in third place with a score of 48.550.

“It’s definitely the first experience in a big stadium for us,” Golden Empire director Tim Heasley said. “For the majority of our members, this is the first time they’ve walked into a venue like this and performed in front of a crowd like that. I know that they must be completely hyped right now.“

The Bakersfield corps’ 2015 production, “The Color of Crime,” takes its cues from Blake Edwards’ classic “Pink Panther” films of the 1960s and ‘70s. Heasley says that the corps still has a lot of tweaking to do on the program, which will have to happen quickly as Golden Empire’s last event of the summer is coming up on July 12 in Bellflower.

“For us, this production is about getting together something that is really entraining and enjoyable for everyone involved—the members, staff and audience,” Heasley said.

Blue Devils C, the youngest performance ensemble of the Blue Devils organization, finished in fourth with a score of 37.100.

Contributing: Christina Mavroudis