INDIANAPOLIS — They've been waiting a long time for this weekend. The march toward a possible state championship begins for dozens of high school bands on Saturday.
After a one-year hiatus, the competition season is back for members of the Indiana State School Music Association.
The drum breaks. The spine-tingling mezzo-forte sustains.
They are back.
After a forced pandemic rest, champions will be crowned measure by measure in a matter of weeks.
Marching bands are divided into three groups in Indiana, two of which lead to awards.
The defending scholastic Class A champions are the marching Bronchos from Lafayette Jefferson High School. Other marching bands to watch include Westfield, Perry Meridian, Warren Central, and two schools that used to compete in open class: Beech Grove and Franklin Community High Schools.
Scholastic class state finals are Saturday, Oct. 23 at Franklin Central High School.
In open class, almost 90 bands are competing for a shot to go to Lucas Oil Stadium, and a chance to drink the celebratory milk with Buttercup the cow.
It's divided into four classes, A through D, based on school enrollment.
In 2019, Greenfield-Central won its first-ever state title, beating out the legendary marching Woodmen from Greenwood High School. The year before, it was Greenwood winning, edging out the Cougar pride. Both are expected to be in the mix again this year, as is Northview High School from Brazil.
Other bands to watch include the Marching Minutemen from Concord High School in Elkhart. They are back at Class B after three years of competing in Class A.
There are two dark horse bands: the Marching Arabians from Pendleton Heights, and Mount Vernon High School. The Fortville band moved up to open class this year after finishing second in scholastic Class A in 2019.
Open Class A has been a little like college football, and the marching black and gold from Avon High School are a little like the Crimson Tide. Avon has won five of the last seven Class A championships. The only years they didn't win were in 2018 when the title went to their main rivals, the marching Greyhounds from Carmel High School, and in 2017 when neither Avon nor Carmel competed in the ISSMA circuit because of other commitments. Watch for them to go one-two again this year, with Homestead High School from Fort Wayne nipping at their heels.
Other Class A bands that could make noise include the sound of Brownsburg, the Tiger band from Fishers, the marching pride of Lawrence Township, and the marching Giants of Ben Davis High School.
The open class competition begins with regionals. The top 20 bands in each class then move on to semi-state Oct. 30, and the top 10 bands in Classes A through D at semi-state will advance to state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium, and a chance to bring home the big trophy.