The Pride of Antlers wraps up marching competition season

Photos and story by Vickie Leathers
Staff Writer

Marching season for any band is long and involves extensive work.
“The Pride of Antlers” Bearcat Band has been putting in many hours of practice in order to compete at a few school-sponsored competitions as well as the OSSAA Regional contest.

On Sept. 29, the Bearcat band went to Okmulgee to compete against 20 other bands in the Okmulgee Bulldog Invitational. Bands included 2A-5A schools. Antlers competed in the 3A division. All bands perform in the preliminary competition and then trophies are awarded. After that, the top 12 bands are announced and those top bands compete in the finals.

Antlers took 2nd place in the 3A division right behind the Holdenville band. Antlers was also awarded the Outstanding Drum Major trophy in their division during preliminaries, scoring the top marks out of any band. It was then announced that Antlers was one of the top 12 bands going to finals. Among the 3A-5A schools in the finals (none of the 2A made it), Antlers finished 9th. The top 12 schools in order were Eisenhower, Checotah, Beggs, Wagoner, Holdenville, Poteau, Okemah, Glenpool, Antlers, Eufaula, Stigler and Hilldale. In finals, Okemah took Drum Major with Eisenhower winning Color Guard and Wagoner receiving the top Percussion award.

“Okmulgee Contest went about as expected but what surprised me was the amount of improvement between it and Tishomingo,” stated Ronald Potter IV, band director.  “After doing so well at Tishomingo, I thought we would be in good shape for Region.”

What Potter referred to as Tishomingo, is when “The Pride of Antlers” Bearcat Band went to Tishomingo for their second competition the following weekend on Oct. 6, having back to back Saturday competitions.

Each year, the Tishomingo High School Band along with Chickasaw Nation hosts this band day.  The band day is held in conjunction with the Annual Festival and Meeting of the Chickasaw Nation. One of the biggest parades in southeastern Oklahoma is put on downtown Tishomingo. Bands along with many floats march along the highway. Bands have separate judges and compete in the parade competition. Awards are presented to the best band in each division and an award is given to the outstanding high music score, auxiliary line (also known as color guard), drum major, and drumline. The two areas of small schools and large schools also compete for the Governor's Sweepstakes Award. This award is given to the best overall band for small schools and one for large schools in the parade competition.

For the field competition, this is held at the high school football field. Bands compete again in their division, and awards are given to the outstanding high music score, soloist, auxiliary line (also known as color guard), drum major, and drumline. The two areas of small schools and large schools also compete for the Governor's Sweepstakes Award. The best band in field competition (the one with the highest score) is awarded the Bob Stoddard Award. Bob Stoddard was the Tishomingo High School Band director for many years.

Nine schools marched in the parade competition: Fox, Velma-Alma, Allen, Coalgate, Antlers, Davis, Kingston, Byng and Madill. Antlers was in Division III and part of the large school competition. In parade results, Antlers was the overall winner. Antlers placed first in division III. Antlers received Outstanding Auxiliary, Drum Major and High Music Score. They also won the Large School Sweepstakes award.
Twenty-one schools competed in the field competition.  In the small school area, these included Fox, Velma-Alma, Central High, Frederick, Luther, Allen, Wynnewood, Wilburton, Davis, Antlers, Hugo, Atoka, Eufaula, and Comanche. For large schools, it included Dickson, Sulphur, Kingston, Plainview, Madill, Idabel and Broken Bow. Tishomingo performed as host band for exhibition only.  Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s band also performed as exhibition.

In the field competition, Antlers placed first in Division IV, tying with Eufaula. Antlers also received the Outstanding Drum Major award in field and the Small School Sweepstakes Award. Broken Bow received 6 trophies in field: first in division VIII, Outstanding Soloist, Outstanding Auxiliary, and High Music Score as well as the Bob Stoddard award and Large School Sweepstakes award.

"I couldn't be more proud of these kids,” stated Potter. “We really handed them a full plate with this year's show and they stepped up as always."

These two competitions help the band prepare for the most important contest of the year, the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association Southeast Regional Marching Band & Color Guard competition. When Antlers attends these competitions, they use their scores and judges’ remarks to better themselves for the regional contest. Their goal is to receive the highest score possible at regionals, which is the Superior or One Rating.

The OSSAA holds several regional contests throughout Oklahoma in October. Antlers went to McAlester on Oct. 10 for the SE Regional competition. They performed on the field with full band and then their color guard performed separately in another location for their own rating. Antlers once again received top marks, receiving Superior in both field and color guard.

"In the end, we measure where we are at by the standard ‘The Pride of Antlers’ has set for years,” said Potter.  “We are our own toughest competitor."

Potter added about this year’s marching season, “We couldn't do what we do without all the support of the parents and the boosters, and they have been amazing.”

The band will continue to play their marching season show during the rest of this year’s football season. They will perform a “Lights Out” show on Senior Night, Nov. 2 where all the field lights are turned off and the band will march while wearing glow-in-the-dark gear.

Pictured are Seniors:    The 2018-2019 seniors are shown with Band Director Ron Potter and Color Guard Director Kristy Potter with the Superior plaque the band received at the OSSAA SE Regionals. Pictured from left are Chad Lewis, Kyle Ingram, Alexis Gomez, Ron Potter, Brody Goines, Kristy Potter, Katelyn Lofton, Taylor Mixer and Cory Lewis.