It was a little after 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and the electronic sign at Wiregrass Ranch High School flashed a steady 91 degrees. It was as hot as, well, Florida in August, and the black skies on the horizon were threatening to interrupt another rehearsal as the band played through its umpteenth rendition of Carry on Wayward Son.
There's a show to get on the field — or in this case, a steamy student parking lot, which at least is a short run to the band room should the skies open up.
And they will. You can count on it.
"It doesn't matter what day we practice," said band director George DeGuzman. "It always rains on us. That's Florida in the summertime."
It's all part of the nitty-gritty process of pulling 85 students into a cohesive unit of sound and movement that promises to entertain at halftime.
It's a real group effort, one that rivals that of the very team the band is there to support, said clarinet player Nathan Tindall, 17.
"On a football team, there's like 10 players on the field. In the band, there's 80 to 85 all working together. It feels like it's 105. We're all sweaty. We all love it."
With any luck, so will the fans in the stands. This week and next, Top of the Class offers a preview of Pasco County high school marching band halftime shows. Come on out.