INDIANAPOLIS — Indy may be the unofficial marching band capitol of the U.S., with two of the biggest music organizations in the world (Drum Corps International and Music For All) calling the Circle City home. For thousands of Indiana high school students, however, the marching musical universe points toward Indy for a different reason; the chance to bring home a state championship trophy.
After a year off due to the pandemic, new high school state marching band champions will be crowned on Saturday. 40 schools will take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the competition hosted by the Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA).
Ten high schools will compete in each of four classes - Open Class A, B, C, and D based on the size of the school — Class A is made up of the larger schools, while the smallest schools compete in Class D.
Those smaller school bands still make a loud sound, and they will be the first to compete for ISSMA hardware on Saturday. The Marching Kings from Lewis Cass High School will be trying to defend their 2019 state title. "I'm thinking we have a pretty good shot," said Emme Grisez, one of the drum majors at Lewis Cass, a sentiment echoed by fellow drum major Jerett Shupperd. "I can say that everybody in those stands will be expecting an amazing show. These kids have been working so hard this week for this, and I think they're going to do amazing. So, the crowd better be ready."
The Open Class C competition features a battle between the last two state champions — 2019 winners Western High School from Russiaville and the 2018 champs from Edgewood High School in Ellettsville. Northwestern High School of Kokomo is also among the ten Class C bands playing for a title.
The Class B contest is wide open, with several strong bands among the ten vying for the big trophy. Greenfield-Central High School is back to defend their 2019 state title, as are 2018 champions Greenwood - historically one of the strongest bands in the state. Northview High School from Brazil also has numerous championships from its past, while Concord High School of Elkhart is also expected to contend as it returns to Class B following three years of competing in Open Class A. Munster High School is also expected to be strong based on scores from earlier competitions this fall, while the Marching Dragons of New Palestine are back at state finals for the first time in 14 years.
Open Class A is expected to once again come down to two schools. Avon High School has won five of the last seven Class A championships, but the band is focused on more than simply upholding that winning tradition. "No matter what the outcome is, no matter what happens, we've put so much work in, and I think we're going to be proud of this show no matter what," said Hadley Zeller, one of Avon's drum majors.
Once again, Avon's chief competition comes from Carmel High School. The Marching Greyhounds already own one win over Avon this season — at the Bands of America Indianapolis Super Regional two weeks ago at Lucas Oil Stadium. Other Class A bands to keep an eye on include Castle High School of Newburgh, Homestead High School of Fort Wayne and Brownsburg, Fishers and Center Grove High Schools from Central Indiana.
Doors to Lucas Oil Stadium open at 9:00am Saturday, and the show will begin with exhibitions from the Scholastic Class State Champion bands from Maconaquah High School (Scholastic Class B) and Westfield High School (Scholastic Class A). Information on the competition and ticket information can be found HERE.