The Blue Devils became the first corps to eclipse 95 points this season, pushing their undefeated streak into the final week of the DCI Tour with a score of 95.513 on Friday night in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
“The final week of the season is about being consistent and bringing the same sort of performance energy to every single rep and every rehearsal that we have,” Blue Devils drum major C.C. Waggoner said. “We always say that you can't show up to the show and get in the stadium and just turn it on. These past few shows for us have been about going out there and leaving it all on the field.”
Along with the overall victory on the first night of the DCI Eastern Classic at J. Birney Crum Stadium, the Devils topped the field of 10 World Class corps by sweeping all captions, helping to keep them more than two points ahead of the Bluecoats (2nd, 93.400).
Phantom Regiment (3rd, 87.000) kept inching closer to the 90-point mark on Friday night, while the Blue Stars (4th, 86.500) showed signs of pulling off a potential upset in the waning days of 2017 just half a point behind. Phantom Regiment held a lead as large as 3.3 points just two weeks ago in San Antonio.
The Mandarins (5th, 82.725) continue to fight for every last point that could decide whether or not they earn their first trip as a World Class corps to the DCI World Championship Finals.
“It's all about the drive and the want to be on the field Saturday night in Indianapolis,” said Damien Masterson, a member of Mandarins' snare drum line. “Every day our staff lights a fire under us. It makes us think, ‘Hold on a second, I don't want to watch Finals, I want to be there on the field in Finals.'”
As an added effect debuted for the last week of the season, the corps brought out a black tarp that envelops the full ensemble at the end of their program, “Inside the Ink.”
Regaining a slim lead on the Troopers for the second time this season on Monday in Centerville, Ohio, the Colts (6th, 81.025) built upon their newfound edge substantially in Allentown. The Iowa corps bested its season-long rival from Wyoming by more than a point and half, the largest margin between the two corps this season.
Despite having a bit of ground to make up behind the Colts, the Troopers (7th, 79.463) are confident heading into their final performances of 2017.
“It was a really good crowd tonight and a really good performance for us,” said Hollie Jo Carr, a member of Troopers' front ensemble. “We just have to keep pushing. Our motto is HLD: Honor, Loyalty and Dedication.”
In eighth place, Spirit of Atlanta (8th, 78.063) continued to create some distance between itself and Pacific Crest (9th, 76.150), with Pioneer rounding out the World Class field in 10th place with a score of 65.525.
In addition to the performing World Class corps, the talented international ensemble THE COMPANY kicked off the first day of DCI Eastern Classic competition with its production, “Tomorrow: It's Just Around the Corner.”
As the first British corps to join the DCI Tour since the 1990s, the Chesterfield, England-based group earned a score of 66.500 in DCI's International Class division.
“We've been working hard for two years (to make this trip to the U.S. happen) — You name it, they've done it,” said drum major Daniel Gannoway-Pitts, who previously marched three years in the U.S. with the Colts. “I can't think of a European group that deserves it more to be here at DCI. This is a DCI-caliber corps and they deserve to be here.”
After arriving in the U.S. on July 31, THE COMPANY's Allentown appearance marked just the corps' second performance on American soil. The group will head to Avon Lake, Ohio on Saturday before the DCI World Championships get started on Monday, August 7 in Michigan City, Indiana.
The reigning Drum Corps Associates World Champion and hometown favorite Cadets2 finished out the night of Allentown performances with its presentation of “Once Upon a Lifetime.”
The second half of DCI's World Class corps will wrap things up on Saturday night back at J. Birney Crum Stadium, as the World Championships in Indianapolis await less than a week away.