Little Big Horn a big success

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

By the time the last band took the field Saturday night at Channell-Lee Stadium, the stands were filled to capacity and the energy level was high. The 23rd Annual Little Big Horn, one of the largest high school marching band competitions in the Southeast, was coming to a stirring conclusion of a very busy day.

"The turnout was excellent," said Opp High School Band Director Randy Hughey. "The stadium was probably filled to capacity and there was an overflow crowd standing."

Although it is too soon to crunch real numbers, Hughey believes that financially, this will be a better than average year for the band's proceeds, based on the crowd he saw and the number of people at the concessions stands.

He credits the band supporters and the weather for the good turnout.

"The weather was perfect," he said. "It was

sunny day, but there was breeze blowing and I don't think anybody got too hot. We couldn't have asked for a better day."

Most of the bands would agree, since their performances, according to Hughey, were also better than usual.

"Based on the scores from the judges, the level of performance was higher than average," he said. "There were some outstanding high scores, even among the smaller bands, and there really weren't many unusually low scores."

Among the local bands, Straughn High School shone the brightest, receiving not only an overall Superior rating in every category, but nearly sweeping each category in their class. They were given high honors for drum major, majorettes, color guard and percussion, and were awarded the first place prize for Class AA bands. Ashford took AA honors for dance line. Straughn's drum major, Charles Hester, won the highest award of the evening, the Mallory Award, given to the highest scoring drum major, regardless of his band's class size.

Of the 24 bands competing, 21 earned overall Superior ratings with three earning overall Excellent. There were three overall Excellents, including Andalusia, Graceville and New Brockton.

Andalusia took home the high honors for Majorettes in Class AAA and received overall superior ratings for percussion as well. Florala and Red Level both received ratings of Overall Superior.

There was only one minor glitch in the contest, according to Hughey, when the band director from Graceville had misplaced a number on his application form, and the small A band with its three or four trumpets found itself competing against AAA bands with ten times that number in the hornline.

"We didn't realize it until they took the field. We allowed them to compete with their proper class," said Hughey.

The Troy State University marching band, "The Sound of the South" completed the evening, playing after the Opp High School band gave an exhibition performance. The TSU band arrived from their homecoming and, according to the announcer, some of the band members had performed as many as seven shows already that day. They gave their "Earth, Wind and Fire" show twice, once for each side of the field.

The top winners in each class were:

A: First - St. James; second - Geneva County; and third - Zion Chapel. St. James swept ever category.

AA: First - Straughn; second - W.S. Neal; and third - Rehobeth.

AAA: First- Carroll of Ozark; second - Daleville; and third - Wetumpka. Daleville took first in drum major, Andalusia took first for majorettes, and Carroll took first in both percussion and color guard.

AAAA: First - Niceville, Fla.; second - Northview; and third - Mosley of Panama City, Fla. Hillcrest took first in drum major, Mosley took first in dance line, and Niceville took first in majorettes, color guard and percussion.