Gulf High Buccaneer Band
New Port Richey
• Band and guard members: 70
• Staff: William L. Rutherford, band director; Kelly Rutherford, color guard sponsor; Angelo Saroukos, percussion instructor.
• Drum majors: Kelsey Phillips and Shane Gillen.
• Show theme: "Smooth Criminal."
• Competitions: King Lion's Pride Invitational, Oct. 20; FBA District 5 Marching Performance Assessment, Nov. 3 at River Ridge middle/high complex.
• Needs: Any donated instruments are accepted. Cash donations for instrument repairs, instrument purchases and new music. Contact William Rutherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tom Deininger (booster president): email@example.com.
• Next halftime performance: Friday at home against King's Academy. Game time is 7 p.m.
J.W. Mitchell High School Marching Mustangs
New Port Richey
• Band and guard members: 128
• Staff: Joel Quina, band director; Tom Damato, visual; Andrew Smith, visual; Ashley Smith, color guard director; Whitney Smith, color guard; John Lluvera, percussion director; Kristen Murrell, front ensemble.
• Drum majors: Lindsay Seeney and Taylor Tischhauser.
• Band captains: Melanie Nagel and Rachel Robichaud.
• Show theme: "Land of the Free: A National Tribute."
• Competitions: Durant High Invitational, Oct. 6; King Lions Pride Invitational, Oct. 20; FBA District 5 Marching Performance Assessment, Nov. 3 at River Ridge middle/high complex.
• Next halftime performance: Friday at home against Anclote High. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
River Ridge High School Royal Sound Marching Knights
New Port Richey
• Band and guard members: 50
• Staff: Robert Cook, band director; Nicholas Chaikosky, percussion instructor.
• Drum majors: Amanda Beckman and Hannah Chasney.
• Show theme: "Reflections of the Blue Frontier."
• Competition: East Lake Invitational, Oct. 13; FBA District 5 Marching Performance Assessment, Nov. 3 at River Ridge middle/high complex.
• Needs: Amplifiers, bass guitar, drum set for pep band and jazz band; donations to purchase a new band trailer. Contact Robert Cook by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (727) 774-7200.
• Next halftime performance: At home Friday against Fivay High. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Sunlake High Soaring Sound Marching Band
• Band and guard members: 75.
• Staff: Tonya O'Malley, band director; Betsy Koss and Valeri Tyson, guard directors; Alexis White, Anslee Merchant, guard staff; Joshua King and Michael Malgoza, percussion directors; Brian Brock and Madeline Varieur, percussion staff; Melanie Wittke, Brian Guedes, Brent Harden, Ashleigh Lemon, brass and visual staff.
• Drum majors: Katelyn Nguyen; junior drum major, Matthew Csontos.
• Show theme: "Nevermore" based on Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.
• Competitions: Oct. 6. at Seminole High; Oct. 20 at Tarpon Springs High; marching band state semifinals competition on Nov. 17.
• Needs: Sponsorships to fund the building of props for "Nevermore," equipment and transportation to competitive events. Advertising opportunities are available.
• Next halftime performance: Friday at Hudson High. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
Wiregrass Ranch Marching Bulls
• Band and guard members: 105.
• Staff: George DeGuzman, director; Dean Donataccio, assistant director; Chris Noto; drill and visual; Megan DeGuzman and Rene Robles, color guard; Justiño Rojas-Baggett and Michael Washington, percussion.
• Drum majors: Katelyn Waldron and Emily Crissey.
• Show theme: "The Olympic Games."
• Trips/competitions: East Lake Invitational, Oct. 13; Largo Invitational, Oct. 27; FBA District 5 Marching Performance Assessment, Nov. 3 at River Ridge middle/high complex. A trip to Washington, D.C., in January to attend the presidential inauguration.
• Needs: With the high cost of the trip to Washington, cash donations or sponsorships of individual, needy students, are the greatest need. Call (813) 346-6000 or go to wrhsmusic.com.
• Next halftime performance: Friday at home against Wesley Chapel High. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
High school football season kicks off, and so comes time once again to bring out the bands. This week and next, we'll be highlighting the talented and dedicated members of the marching bands who do their best to rev up the fans in the stands and the teams on the field.
• • •
The first day on the field might just be the toughest. It was 9 a.m. and the Gulf High Buccaneer Band members were already feeling the heat.
Drum majors Kelsey Phillips, 16, and Shane Gillen, 16, were at the helm as some 70 band and color guard members drilled through a tedious morning practice, matching marching to music for the opening number.
"There's a pretty good amount of freshmen, so we have to spend some time teaching the basics — standing at attention, parade rest, faces (turns), backward marching and how to roll step," Shane said. "This is the time when we start molding the show."
Gulf High, entering it's 90th year, is known for its use of visuals during halftime, and this year's show promises a theatrical theme of cops and robbers played out by the color guard.
"I love it!" said color guard captain Lora Scudlo, after running her charges through their paces. "There's so many visuals this year."
The Mission Impossible opening number is meant to light a fuse for those in the stands who might think twice about heading for the concessions during Friday night football, said director William Rutherford. Then they'll just have to stay around for the rest of the show that features a theatrical game of cops and robbers played out on the field as the band plays Smooth Criminal, Jailhouse Rock and Cell Block Tango from the Broadway show Chicago.
"It's exhausting and you really have to build up stamina — people don't realize how physical this is," Shane said. "It's 10 minutes of go!"