BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
The O’Fallon Marching Panthers have long been among the best bands in the St. Louis metro area, but after the 2016 season, the Blue and Gold announced they were among Illinois’ elite.
OTHS’ competitive season starts as it always does, in St. Louis at the Veiled Prophet Fourth of July Parade. And, in accordance with 22 year-old history, the Marching Panthers came away Grand Champions.
O’Fallon has now won or tied every VP Parade since 1994.
Following was a well-deserved break before the groups band camp, which is a grueling twelve and a half hour ordeal where the band learns the basic workings of the season’s competitive field show.
The Marching Panthers hosted the Metro East Marching Classic at the Panther Athletic Complex on September 6, and while O’Fallon only performed in an exhibition capacity, the band made a statement.
September 17 featured the Edwardsville Tiger Ambush Classic, a good early show that draws some of the best groups from across the bi-state.
O’Fallon once again proved its status as the region’s best group, winning the Grand Champion prize, as well as winning Class 4A and the Outstanding Music, Visual, and Percussion caption awards.
The band took the trip to Blue Springs, Missouri on October 1, and the band used a top three performance in the preliminary round to advance to Finals, where the band placed fourth against some of the best bands in the Midwest.
Two weeks later, the Marching Panthers challenged the entire hierarchy of Illinois High School Marching Band when the band beat perennial state power Prospect in Class 6A, winning the Outstanding Music, Visual, and General Effect captions.
The real shocker, however, took place in the challenge for the Governor’s Trophy. O’Fallon was the reigning winner of the trophy, but powerhouse Prospect and the legendary Marian Catholic did not attend in 2015.
In the end, O’Fallon topped Marian Catholic in perhaps the biggest head-to-head win in program history, bringing home one of the top prizes in the state against the toughest possible competition.
Marian Catholic has placed in the top 12 at the Bands of America Grand National Championships for over 35 years.
The following weekend featured the first Bands of America event for the Marching Panthers, as the band took the short drive across the river to compete in the BOA St. Louis Super Regional at the Edward Jones Dome.
OTHS placed fourth in class 4A in prelims en route to a seventh consecutive trip to Finals at the event, where the band placed sixth overall. The showing is the best in school history at the Super Regional.
The Marching Panthers took part in one last tune-up before Grand Nationals when they competed in the Belleville East Marching Invitational on October 29, and O’Fallon looked the part of a Grand National Semi-Finalist in winning the Grand Champion trophy.
O’Fallon would win Class 4A, sweeping all available captions.
OTHS made the trip out to Indianapolis on November 10 to Lucas Oil Stadium and the Grand National Championships, and the group certainly returned to the form they were in at their last trip to Indiana.
The band roared through Prelims, placing in the Semi-Finals for the fourth time in school history. O’Fallon would place 22nd overall at the event, ten places out of one of the twelve coveted Finals spots.
Up next for the Marching Panthers is their trip to Miami, Florida to perform in their first Orange Bowl Parade since 1989.