They came close; oh, so close. Huntington High School’s Blue Devil marching band captured second place in Sunday’s New York State Field Band Conference championships at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, coming within 1.25 points of first place Cicero-North Syracuse.
Placing second in the state finals is an exceptional achievement, but the Blue Devil band is so competitive that members set their sights on first place. Period. Still, this has been a season to celebrate and Huntington once again proved that its marching band can go note-for-note and movement-for-movement with the best across the state.
The Blue Devils finished ahead of spectacular bands in their division from Webster, Orchard Park, Kingston, Horseheads, West Seneca, Copiague and Lindenhurst.
Blue Devil marching band members
had fun at the state championships.
(Darin Reed photo.)
“Congratulations to HBDMB on a terrific season,” Huntington Superintendent James W. Polansky said. “Their dedication and hard work are inspirational. They have represented and continue to represent our school community in the finest manner possible. We are beyond proud all band and staff members!”
Huntington’s drive for perfection started many months ago. The Blue Devils’ commitment to being New York’s finest band is so strong that anything less than a state title almost feels like a letdown, but it shouldn’t. A second place finish in a field and state with so many highly skilled bands is something to celebrate and an accomplishment that few other high schools anywhere can match.
Cicero-North Syracuse boasts a legendary marching band program and the high school won a state title last year, too. Remarkably on Sunday, Huntington finished ahead of West Seneca, which had also captured the state championship in October 2016, albeit in a different division.
With so much pressure on them to perform absent even the smallest error, the Blue Devil musicians and color guard did just that and they were clearly pleased as they marched off the field inside the huge domed stadium with smiles on their faces.
Huntington band director Brian Stellato and his staff of professionals, many with long ties to the Blue Devil program, brought together about 120 musicians and color guard members and developed a field show that won first place honors at competitions across the metropolitan area this fall.
“The members of the HBDMB have accomplished so much over the course of this year,” said Eric Reynolds, district director of fine and performing arts. “From the very first band camp rehearsal we knew we had something special. The band and color guard always stayed focused on the goals set working hard to better themselves and the group. Finishing their competitive season with their highest score ever in the state’s Large School 2 Division is the icing on the cake.”
Katie Riley, Mardnie Mentor and Jamie Rosenbauer are the Blue Devils’ drum majors. Adina Kirkland is the field major. The band’s student leadership also includes flute section leaders Katharine Kitzen and Alyssa Befumo; clarinet section leaders Peter Ciccone and Mathew Hearl; alto sax section leader Nathan Gamboa; low reed section leader Meagan Malone; mello section leaders Adina Kirkland and Amelia Reilly; trumpet section leaders Aidan McCooey and Ryan Marques; low brass section leaders Kenny Fajardo and James Obermaier.
“The students have grown so close, forming strong bonds musically and personally,” Mr. Reynolds said. “This year’s ensemble was made up of leaders who were responsible, dedicated and passionate. The staff has worked tirelessly since August progressing each and every week overseeing every note, step and spin on the field. Brian Stellato and [assistant director] Jen Schmelter steadily led the students and staff creating a winning culture and continuing Huntington’s tradition of excellence.”
The Huntington band members are already decompressing from the grind of the season and the pressure that comes with competing in the state championships.
“States is the first time all nine bands in our division came together in competition and each band brought their ‘A-game,’” Ms. Riley said. “The Carrier Dome is an amazing venue and hearing the cheers from the Huntington families inspired us to perform our best. HBDMB did not disappoint! Once again we improved our score and ranking. I’m proud of each and every band member for their hard work, thankful for Mr. Stellato and Mrs. Schmelter and the staff for their tireless commitment to us and to the entire Huntington High School community for their support. We had an astounding run, which has motivated us to look forward to next season and the possibilities yet to come.”
Final scores: 1. Cicero-North Syracuse: 90.00; 2. Huntington: 88.75; 3. Orchard Park: 87.35; 4. Webster: 87.35; 5. Kingston: 85.40; 6. West Seneca: 85.30; 7. Lindenhurst: 82.95; 8. Horseheads: 82.20; 9. Copiague: 80.55