Perfect stadium. Perfect field. Perfect weather conditions. These made for a picturesque setting for the DCI West Championship with the iconic Stanford University tower in the background, the Santa Clara Valley mountains enveloping the horizon, and palm trees lining the end zone. In these ideal conditions, top corps had their pre-Championship showdown in the new Stanford University stadium with the Cadets coming out the victor scoring 95.125. Maybe it was the weather. "We haven't seen a cloud in five days," the Cadets' director George Hopkins laughed. Overall, Hopkins was proud of his corps' performance. "Since Denver they've been pretty consistent on a new level. There were small errors but still, we're really proud. The color guard has really come on strong." The Cadets' guard took first tonight in their caption with Santa Clara Vanguard in second. This summer, the Cadets have come under a certain amount of fan-based debate surrounding the corps' use of narration to emphasize their program. At tonight's event the Cadets performed a line that was recently added to the show: "OK – Now let's try it without voice." This unexpected bit of humor brought a chuckle to many in the stands. Hopkins is candid about it. "Hey, if you can't make fun of yourself ... I'm not sure who can. We realize the [narration] controversy. We don't have our heads in the sand. We know it's uncomfortable for some people but it works in our show. We've taken a lot out and made it more palatable, but we still want to tell a story. Hopefully we're accomplishing that goal." The win for the Cadets snapped a 13-show winning streak for the Blue Devils (94.825) while continuing their own tear of eight straight wins coming out of the end of July and into August. Bluecoats turned in a score of 92.075 good enough for the bronze medal while staying ahead of Santa Clara Vanguard (90.675), a corps that has put up scores above 90 in its last three outings. Blue Knights (88.625), Glassmen (84.425), Crossmen (81.900), Cascades (79.875), Troopers (79.850), and Mandarins (77.100) also performed in Stanford. In addition to a precursor to next week's Drum Corps International World Championships, the DCI West Championship in Stanford served as a highlight to the celebration of the Blue Devils' 50th anniversary and Santa Clara Vanguard's 40th. The Blue Devils formally celebrated the occasion on Aug. 3 to a crowd at the corps' 50-Year Celebration Party in Palo Alto, Calif., and members, alumni and fans of the Vanguard will do the same on Aug. 5 in Santa Clara with their own banquet. To close out the night in honor of the two corps' anniversaries, the combined Santa Clara Vanguard, Blue Devils and alumni corps for both organizations, played the timeless "Since I Fell for You." The two corps then traded tunes, with the Vanguard playing a medley of hits including "Festive Overture" and "Phantom of the Opera" followed by "The Bottle Dance." Back in the Blue Devils' court the corps pumped out the feisty "Free." Catching the audience up in the moment a mix of "Happy Days Are Here Again" and "Phantom of the Opera" was a sweet finale to a beautiful evening.
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