By JACOB LOPEZ
The San Benito High School Mighty Greyhound Marching Band is competing at the annual Pigskin Jubilee Saturday, Oct. 18, as the program’s first step toward repeating 2012’s magical state-qualifying achievement.
At Pigskin, Valley marching bands compete for a Division 1 rating in order to qualify for Area competition.
For San Benito, the most challenging part of the preparation is the time put in, according to SBHS Band Director Mark Perea. The band puts rehearses about eight hours per day after school.
“This is the end of our regular season and this is where we go into what is our band playoff season this weekend,” said Perea.
Doing well in Pigskin determines whether the bands advance.
Perea’s been with San Benito for three years, but this is his first year at the helm.
He doesn’t feel much pressure, saying, “Yes, [there’s pressure] but the kids are very prepared for this weekend, so I don’t feel too much pressure.”
The public support has also helped the Greyhound band push along, according to Perea, who said a big part of that is the parents volunteering their efforts in fundraising, attending events and supporting the band as spectators.
In 2012, then band director Willie Perez said, “We don’t go to Pigskin to get a Division 1 rating, we go to show off.”
According to Perea, that statement still holds true.
“Everyone in the region feels that we are one of the frontrunners to go to the state contest,” said Perea of the feedback the band received last week at the pre-Pigskin event.
Also noteworthy is that approximately half of the band consists of freshmen. It’s something that surprises many who have told Perea his band “doesn’t look like a young band.”
Some schools don’t march freshmen, which is an occurrence many consider risky since ninth graders are new to marching and are just learning how to balance classes with extracurricular activities. Still, they’ve “really pulled through,” he says.
Because San Benito performs early in the 6A division (8 p.m.), Perea wants his band to set the bar for the other bands to meet that evening.
Looking into the future, having a large group of freshmen is an exciting prospect for the band director.
“Our next state go-around should be something special, because those 120 freshmen we have on the field will be juniors, which will mean the band will be very strong,” he said.
There are a total of 24 bands competing this year.
La Villa performs at 3:30 p.m.; Santa Rosa at 3:45; Lyford goes on at 4 p.m.; Progreso performs at 4:15 p.m.; Raymondville goes on at 4:45 p.m.; Rio Hondo at 4:45 p.m.; La Feria at 5 p.m.; and Port Isabel at 5:15 p.m.
The 5A bands start at 5:45 p.m. with Edcouch Elsa; followed by Pace at 6 p.m.; Donna North at 6:15 p.m.; Donna at 6:30 p.m.; Mercedes at 6:45 p.m.; and Porter at 7 p.m.
In 6A, Los Fresnos kicks things off at 7:45 p.m.; Veteran’s Memorial plays after San Benito at 8:15 p.m.; Weslaco at 8:45 p.m.; Hanna at 8:45 p.m.; Weslaco East at 9 p.m.; followed by Harlingen at 9:15 p.m.; Rivera at 9:30 p.m.; Harlingen South at 9:45 p.m.; and Lopez closes out the night at 10 p.m.
Final announcements are at 10:15 p.m.
Pigskin begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 18 at Bobby Morrow Stadium in San Benito.
Those interested in volunteering for the event can sign up Wednesday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at the San Benito High School Band Hall.