By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
Contest season has come to an end for the Silver Tarpon Marching Band. The band performed in its final contest last Saturday at Mercedes, and once again crowned itself with glory.
The band received straight Division I ratings, the highest possible, from the panel of judges at the UIL “Pigskin Marching Festival”. And since this is a non-state year for Class 4A bands it was the final contest of the year.
The Press found Head Director of Bands for the Port Isabel Independent School Dis-trict, Scott Hartsfield, in his office in the music department and he summed it all up.
“Our first week out, at Mercedes and PSJA, they made First Division at both contests, but we still had glitches in the show. So we went into “Pigskin” and the kids were feeling comfortable. They were saying, ‘You know, Sir, we started our season here at Mercedes and now we’re ending (it) at the same stadium. And we all just decided it was time to clean up the mess we left behind at the first one, and just have a good show.’ And they did. The soloists did extremely well, the band marched well, and there were no electronics problems. Everything worked how it was supposed to work.”
There were no overall rankings of the bands, so the Silver Tarpon band did not have the option of going for a repeat of their Grand Champion award from last week’s contest at Robstown. But it was still a very nice way to end the season.
“The weather co-operated for us extremely well, so our tuning was good because the weather affects the instruments. It was about 80 degrees – it was a good contest day.”
Families and friends of the band members made the trip to cheer the band on and share in its success.
“We had a good fan base,” Hartsfield said. “It was a good turnout by the community. They were really supportive and it was nice to see everybody coming out.”
Hartsfield talked about the differences between the years when Class 4A bands like Port Isabel’s try to advance to the state contest and the off years, when they don’t.
“It’s a great opportunity to prepare for next year’s state (contest). A lot of bands will play it safe on their off years. We go the other way – we try to push on the off years to try to make the group stronger for the state years.”
Hartsfield also talked about the contributions of the largest class of band members, the freshmen.
“It’s going to really benefit us going into next year. The freshmen class … not only were they good kids, but they worked hard and they followed well. They were in it for the right reasons and that helped a lot. We have some strength in the freshmen class, some talent. But where we didn’t have the strength, they still rose to the occasion because of their work ethic. They just worked hard at it.”
“It was probably the best we’ve ever performed that show,” co-drum major James Grace said this week. “We were more refined and more developed.”
As a senior and four-year member of the Silver Tarpon band Grace knows it’s a time to look back and enjoy it all while he can.
“It was my last competition. I was happy, I was sad. This band made me so proud. This band was four years of my life and I’ll never be able to march with them again. I’ll miss everything I have here but life does go on.”
Bass drummer and section leader for the basses, Robert Perez, also a senior expressed his thoughts on the end of contest season and Homecoming Week.
“It really does give the band a reprieve from all the hard work we do during marching season.”
Like the vast majority of the band membership, Perez knows many of the guys on the football team.
“Lots of guys on the team are guys I grew up playing sports with. I love coming out and watching them play. I’m excited to see what our team may be able to pull off.”
What Perez, speaking for all his Silver Tarpon band brethren, was talking about was the possibility that the Tarpons could pull off a huge win against Raymondville this Friday night at Tarpon Stadium.
Port Isabel lost last season at Raymondville, 48-0. The Bearkats took the 2017 meeting, 22-7, also in Raymondville. The Tarpons last beat Raymondville, 36-6, in 2016, at Tarpon Stadium.