As Forte drum major Sam Walker put it, "It's drum corps time in Texas."
Blue Devils (1st, 90.40) kept their winning streak alive as they captured the DCI Southwestern Championship title in San Antonio, Saturday, July 21. The contest at the Alamodome—the first time this season all 22 World Class corps have competed head-to-head—marked the fourth of six Drum Corps International contests scheduled for 2012 in the Lone Star State.
Carolina Crown (2nd, 89.55) followed behind, with Phantom Regiment (3rd, 87.75) enjoying their new, higher spot in the rankings.
"It's a battle," Blue Devils drum major Marvin Reed said about their string of first-place finishes. "Every day we have to keep pushing to be that much better. Because we are the hunted. And we just have to keep pushing."
Santa Clara Vanguard
Blue Devils color guard member Rachel Silva said corps members always ask themselves, "How can we get better? How can we make this performance or this rehearsal better than the day before?"
Rounding out the top six were the Cadets (4th, 86.95), Santa Clara Vanguard (5th, 85.85) and Bluecoats (6th, 84.85). In one of the first times this season, Santa Clara Vanguard lost the percussion caption to Blue Devils by a tenth of a point.
Santa Clara Vanguard drum major Justin Cunha said it was the corps' first time performing in a dome this season and because of that, they had a few issues to iron out with the sound.
"Other than that, I think everyone adapted well to the performance environment, which was different than any stadium that we've performed in so far this season," he said.
After falling behind at last Saturday's DCI Minnesota event, Madison Scouts (7th, 83.05) once again passed the Cavaliers (9th, 81.50), with Boston Crusaders (8th, 81.55) nestled in between the two corps. Madison Scouts, who last weekend in Minneapolis placed ninth in color guard and overall, saw their color guard fall to 14th place in San Antonio.
For drum corps at the halfway point of their season, San Antonio is Spanish for "show changes," and Cavaliers drum major Andrew Rhebergen said his corps has had more changes to their production this year than any other.
"What's great about this group is that they do not quit," he said. "Even if things are hard, they show up every day, and they are ready to work. They're excited to be here. I love this group."
He said the audience seems to be getting a grasp on their show concept, "15 Minutes of Fame" and reacting accordingly.
"Which is great," Rhebergen said. "Because that's the point. We strive for crowd reaction and to please the crowd. That's the only reason why we're here."
Spirit of Atlanta (10th, 80.45), Blue Knights (11th, 78.65) and Blue Stars (12th, 77.95) finished out the top 12.
Crossmen (13th, 77.55), Glassmen (14th, 75.20) and the Academy (15th, 74.60) followed, all within striking distance of a finalist spot in Indianapolis.
"It's taken a lot of practice," Academy drum major Kendall Stevenson said about their 2012 show "Left of Spring." "We actually listened to one of our recordings from about six weeks ago and the improvement is almost comical — musically, visually and technically. All the aspects of the show."
Although placing 15th overall, the Academy was ranked 18th in Visual Proficiency and 19th in Visual Analysis. The corps is in the midst of an extended tour, attending more contests and traveling further this season than they have before.
"So far it's been great," Academy drum major Chris Sambrano said about this summer's tour. "It's just been tiring since we're not used to traveling and performing this much. But the members are all pulling together, and it's just been a real treat being out there every day and working our butts off."
Colts (16th, 72.90), Troopers (17th, 72.60), Pacific Crest (18th, 72.35), Jersey Surf (19th, 69.80) and Mandarins (20th, 66.95) filled out the top 20.
Like the Academy, Jersey Surf has new additions to their tour schedule in 2012. Their performance on Thursday, July 19 at DCI Austin was their first time in front of a Texas crowd. "It's really exciting," Jersey Surf drum major Ben Godwin said about their stops in Texas. "It's my fourth year with the corps, and we've never come down this way. It's really exciting seeing all these people who haven't been introduced to us and the way we do drum corps. And it's nice to see that they like us so much, not even knowing who we are."
Rounding out the World Class competition was Cascades (21st, 65.10) and Pioneer (22nd, 62.60).
In Open Class, Oregon Crusaders (1st, 78.40) walked away with the top spot even after the corps was assessed a five-point penalty for starting three and half minutes late due to the late arrival of its color guard section.
Genesis (2nd, 73.40) and the two other Texas corps, Forte (3rd, 66.45) and Revolution (4th, 63.15) followed behind.
"For a first performance, it went really well," Forte drum major Sam Walker said about their 2012 debut two days ago in Denton, Texas. "We got a chance to get our first show jitters out of the way and get into the swing of things. It was a nice opportunity for us."
Forte drum major Brandon Ramos said their performance in San Antonio was a very, very good run, reflecting their rehearsals earlier in the week.
View a complete recap of scores from this event.
View the 2012 Drum Corps International Tour schedule.
Contributing: Jessica Skogh (photos)