Drum Corps International
Blue Devils on top again in Stanford
Blue Devils performs Sunday at Stanford Stadium. (@TheBlueDevils)Photo by: Twitter

Blue Devils on top again in Stanford

by Jeff Griffith

The Blue Devils – who haven't lost in Stanford, California, since 2011 – continued their recent dominance of the annual event held at Stanford Stadium, winning the 2017 edition of DCI West presented by Lone Star Percussion on Sunday with a score of 72.000.

With their 60th anniversary production titled “Metamorph,” the Devils bested a field of seven World Class corps, finishing first in every caption and subcaption aside from percussion, brass and color guard which went the way of Santa Clara Vanguard (2nd, 71.050).

“To be back in northern California at the Stanford show, this is definitely one of my favorite drum corps stadiums,” Blue Devils brass caption head John Meehan said. “The corps members really wanted to show the work they've been putting forth the last five weeks preparing the show for the audience. Friends, family, we have a lot of alumni in, so this was definitely a hometown crowd for us, and I think they really ate up the performance.”

With its production “Ouroboros,” Santa Clara Vanguard finished 1.7 points behind the Blue Devils on Friday in Clovis, before cutting that gap substantially in Stanford. It's been a decade since Vanguard has finished less than a point behind its Concord rival.

Following the two California corps in third place was the Blue Knights with a score of 67.850. With a colorful production titled “i,” the Denver-based corps kept its distance over Phantom Regiment after scoring more than two points ahead on Saturday in Sacramento.

With its production “Phantasm,” a show which brass arranger Will Pitts says is about “the battle between reality and fantasy,” Regiment closed that deficit slightly on Sunday by scoring a 66.700 for fourth place. 2017 marks the Illinois corps' first trip to California since 2015.

“The amount of energy that we continue to push into what I think is a harder show than I've ever seen the Regiment pull out is honestly the best thing that you could ask for in a drum corps,” drum major Josiah Marinos said. 

In one of the young season's most surprising results to date, Mandarins topped The Academy for fourth place, scoring 64.300 to the Arizona corps' fifth-place 63.350.

Mandarins initially showed signs of being able to pass The Academy on Saturday, with high marks in the visual caption, before also taking a strong advantage in general effect in Sunday's competition.

Featuring several ink-pen props throughout the field, the Mandarins' show as a whole, “Inside the Ink,” is designed as the corps' interpretation of a Rorschach Inkblot Test.

“Throughout the show we do various ink blots on the field,” said Michael Samson, Mandarins' visual caption head. “There are also a lot of moments in the show where the members will sort of mold their bodies into weird shapes. Those shapes are the ink blots themselves.”

Completing the World Class portion of Sunday's contest was Pacific Crest, which finished in seventh place with a 60.650, after having started the season tied with the Mandarins.

In the Open Class division, Blue Devils B once again kept a solid lead over the Vanguard Cadets, finishing with a 58.150. With a score of 56.800, however, the Santa Clara-based corps was able to start closing a more than two point gap behind Blue Devils B on Friday to just 1.35 points on Sunday.

Blue Devils B took home top honors in general effect, visual, color guard, music and brass with their show “The World the Children Made,” while Vanguard Cadets finished atop the leaderboard in percussion with “In Pieces.”

“Coming out here is definitely our huge ‘home show' moment – everyone comes out to support us,” said Joselyne Grace, Vanguard Cadets' second-year drum major. “I think we pulled it off very well tonight.”

Rounding out the Open Class competition was Golden Empire, which scored 50.100 with its production “Discovering Gems Within,” and Blue Devils C, which performed “Come Fly With Me” and scored 44.100. 

Golden Empire, which is now in its fourth year of competition, is looking to this season – one in which the corps has gone a much more sophisticated direction – as a pivotal opportunity in the corps' growth and improvement.

“This is a huge pinnacle show for us,” director Tim Heasley said. “We're trying to up our game each year and become a little bit more advanced in what we're doing.”

This group of corps will continue its tour of California this week, with events coming up in Santa Barbara (June 28), Oceanside (June 30) and Pasadena (July 1), the latter of which will be webcast live to drum corps fans across the country.

Contributing: Christina Mavroudis, Angel Mendoza

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