By JACOB LOPEZ
The San Benito High School Mighty Greyhound Marching Band plans to be at its mightiest on Saturday, Oct. 25, when Area competition will kick off at Gustafson Stadium in San Antonio.
The band earned the trip after securing a Division 1 rating at the Pigskin Jubilee in San Benito on Saturday, Oct. 18.
SBHS Band Director Mark Perea said things are “busy – trying to get ready for this weekend.”
Last week, shortly after an interview in the days leading up to Pigskin, Perea shared the following with this writer: “I’ll talk to you again next week when we’re getting ready for Area.”
Asked how it feels to know that today those words held true, Perea laughed and said, “Yes. It feels really good, actually.”
Perea said that the band had a “solid” performance and he received plenty of praise on the show.
According to Perea, the Greyhound band is one of the crowd favorites going into Area.
Every week, Perea said, the show “gets better, and better and better.”
The days before Area are the hardest week of the year, according to Perea, and “the biggest push that we have.”
“Coupled with Homecoming, it’s a lot of stress for the kids,” he said, adding, “But we’re going to be alright.”
In addition to band competitions and preparation for Area, the band performs at this week’s Homecoming festivities, including a parade scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 23 in downtown San Benito.
“We’re going (to practice) late tomorrow night,” Perea said Monday, “then we have a rehearsal Wednesday, and then Thursday we have the Homecoming parade.”
Friday night is another rehearsal in San Antonio, and Saturday, not surprisingly, is rehearsal time.
“We wake up Saturday morning, get a quick rehearsal in before our contest … 2:15 p.m.,” said Perea as he explained the band’s busy practice schedule.
At Area, a total of 40 bands travel to compete for a chance to qualify for the state tournament. There are 20 bands divided up between two sites. The top ten at each site advance into finals. The finals performance, which Perea is confident San Benito will qualify for, is also at Gustafson Stadium.
“So preliminaries end around 3 p.m. and then finals start somewhere … around 5:30 p.m.,” said Perea of the upcoming event.
It’s the top eight from finals that earn a state appearance.
Placing in state is the ultimate goal for high school marching bands. As for preparation, the band’s director says some of the challenges the public doesn’t see involve “breaking the performance aspects down.”
Much of the challenge involves fine-tuning the band’s formations on the field.
“We’re already at the part where we’re trying to refine the performance aspect of it,” added Perea.
The past two weeks have been spent polishing the band’s performance. Much of that is thanks to the feedback provided for the first two contests.
The directors use that advice to “tweak” and improve the show overall.
Still, Area may now be considered this band’s area of expertise after qualifying for state in 2012 – the first in SBHS band program history.
This year, Perea plans to lead the band toward a repeat performance.
Catch the band performing at Gustafson (Northside) Stadium, located at 7001 Culebra Rd. in San Antonio.