BY CURTIS CARDEN, Elizabethton Star
It was a near-perfect season for the Elizabethton High School Betsy Band.
The defending Division II state champs finished runner-up to Adamsville Junior Senior High School 95.35 to 94.50 during the 32nd annual Tennessee State Marching Band Championship held at Stewarts Creek High School in Smyrna Saturday night.
“We were .85 points away from a perfect season. I have no complaints. I’m very proud of the kids,” EHS Band Director Perry Elliott said Sunday as the team returned to the school flocked by supporters. “It was basically a contest of ‘do you like apples, or do you like bananas’ because the two shows were completely different. Ours was more of an aggressive style and (Adamsville) was more of a conservative style. It really came down to the judges’ personal preferences.”
Upper Northeast Tennessee was well represented Saturday night. Along with the Cyclones’ second-place finish, Sullivan South High School also earned fourth place.
Betsy Band qualified for the finals of the competition by earning first place in color guard, best music and best visual. EHS also earned second place in best percussion.
Elliott had nothing but praise for his team, including his senior core comprised of over 40 members. Throughout their high school career, they finished no worse than second place and came away with the state title last year.
“I think our upperclassmen this year showed how they could lead the band,” said Drum Major Jake Hensley. “We’ve got the juniors that are ready to step up next year. We took everything we had and put it out on the field. It was our best performance.”
2017 was a busy year for the band overall. To go along with the accolades from Smyrna, EHS had the opportunity to perform during the halftime show at Neyland Stadium and sweep through the regular season competitions in the region. Senior Courtney Bowers was also named to the U.S. Army All American Marching Band, and will perform during the upcoming All American Bowl game in San Antonio, Texas, in 2018.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the students. They were so professional,” Elliott said about the Betsy Band. “It was a very positive day. Of course the students came away disappointed. You couldn’t but not to, but not because of what they did. It was a life lesson that sometimes things don’t work out your way. They’re going to take this one a little hard, but they did everything I asked. I’m so proud of them.”