Most weekends in the fall, it is the West Deptford football team that is dominating their home field.
However, on Saturday night, it was the band, the West Deptford Marching Eagles that got their turn in the spotlight.
West Deptford High School played host to its annual Tournament of Bands competition on Saturday night. The event was a huge success, attracting a total of 22 high schools from across the area as well as a near-capacity crowd.
The competition, which lasted nearly a total of six hours, was put on without a hitch thanks in large part to the dedication of many of the parents of the Marching Eagles.
"Our band parents are tremendous, this just wouldn't happen without their hard work and months of planning," said West Deptford band director Thomas Kershaw. "It's a group of 60 plus parents that do the parking, do the concessions. It's the largest show of the season on the circuit."
The turnout for the event was solid despite the unseasonably chilly weather. The crowd actually grew as the weather got colder and the competition went further into the night. Some hearty fans stayed from beginning to end, taking in all the various performances.
As host, the Marching Eagles were not able to win any awards in the competition. However, they still put on a great performance in front of the home crowd, capping off the night with the second-highest score.
Earlier in the day, a number of bands stood out from the competition. In the Group 1-A Division, Collingswood took home first place as they outscored their closest competitor by two points. Eastern High School won the Group 2-A Division, while Pennsauken had the top score across the board on the day, taking the Group 3-A Division with a score of 93.
In the Open Divisions, Clearview edged out Pitman to win Group 1 Open, while Deptford High School was very impressive in winning Group 2 Open over Middletown (DE).
The competition was a huge tune-up for many of the bands in preparation for the various championships coming up in the next two weeks. Kershaw noted that West Deptford's performance was very important, even though they were competing directly with other schools this weekend.
"We're looking to maintain where we're at right now," he said. "It puts a lot of pressure on them, but these kids are really dedicated."
Dedication will be the key going forward. The Marching Eagles will be performing in the South Jersey Championships next weekend at Clearview High School. The competition will be just the first of few huge competitions coming up for West Deptford.