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Two Tarpon High Spongers to perform at prep bowl game

TARPON SPRINGS — While you scope out next year's college football recruiting class, keep an eye out for two local students showing their talents at halftime.

Two Tarpon Springs High students have been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, which will perform Saturday during halftime of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Students Serena Utz (baritone) and Seth Hochberg (sousaphone) will join 95 other students from across the nation to perform at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

"It's a great honor, especially seeing as not many people ever have this opportunity," said Utz, 17. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it's one that you have to seize when it comes along."

The bowl, which showcases some of the nation's top high school senior players, is in its ninth year. Past participants have included Tim Tebow, Vince Young, Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush.

This is the second year that a band made up of the best high school seniors will perform.

All-American Bowl spokeswoman Marie Keeler said the students will benefit from playing with other talented musicians from around the country.

Hochberg, 17, said the musical selections have been challenging.

"I'm enjoying it," he said. "It's a little more technically difficult than your typical marching band tuba parts, so it's a nice change."

Utz and Hochberg said they've been practicing the three songs they'll perform, but won't learn their drills until they arrive in San Antonio. Other activities included in the all-expenses-paid trip include an outing to a rodeo, a sightseeing tour and a New Year's Eve party.

Only one other Florida student, from Wellington, was chosen this year. Last year, two other Tarpon High students — Melissa Crosswy and Amanda Williams — made the trip.

Members are nominated by their band directors and must submit an audition video and an application that includes their grade point average and record of community service. Students are then selected by a committee of members of the National Association for Music Education.

Utz, the daughter of Michael and Hazel Utz of Palm Harbor, is a band co-president and a member of the school's concert band, jazz ensemble and winter guard. She has been accepted to the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she plans to major in elementary education.

Hochberg, the son of Jeff and Melissa Hochberg of Palm Harbor, also performs with the school's wind ensemble. He is a drum major, tuba section leader and quartermaster. Hochberg said he's torn between the University of Miami and the University of Hartford in Connecticut, but he plans to major in acoustics.

The two will head to Texas today and return Sunday.

Rita Farlow can be reached at or (727) 445-4162.

Big band at bowl: Best of the best

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air at noon Saturday on NBC.

To view a video of last year's halftime show, go to

Two Tarpon High Spongers to perform at prep bowl game 12/29/08 [Last modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 2:02pm]
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