INDIANAPOLIS — No matter how many times you do it, it’s always fun to win.

The Western High School Marching Panthers proved that mantra true Saturday evening at the ISSMA 2021 State Marching Band Finals held at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Panthers repeated as Class C state champions, beating out nine other state schools competing in that class.

To say Western is dominant in Class C would be an understatement.

There have only been three years since 2008 where the Marching Panthers have not won in Class C. In those three years — 2013, 2017 and 2018 — the school was not far from winning the title, placing second.

No state finals were held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saturday marked the 18th time the high school has been crowned state champions in ISSMA marching band — 17 of those in Class C.

But judging from how excited the students and instructors were after it was announced they’d be taking home the state title back to Russiaville, one could’ve thought the school had won it for the first time ever.

“I’m on top of the world,” Jonah Andreatta, Western director of bands, said just minutes after winning the state title. “With the kids having worked so hard the entire season, I’m so happy that we can bring this home for the seniors, for everybody who’s been affected who hopefully saw the show and found solace and found light out of the darkness.”

Western’s performance was titled “When the World Seemed to Burn.” Andreatta previously told the Tribune that he likened it to the story of the Phoenix, the mythical bird that rises from the ashes.

“When the World Seemed to Burn” ends with a hymn that transforms the burnt structures on the field representing chaos and destruction into colorful pieces.

The piece is mostly up tempo, with band and color guard members almost constantly on the move. Color guard members even execute a wardrobe change midsong.

The Panthers made the challenging performance look easy, though, and it earned them another state title. Bands are judged on music, visuals and artistic effect.

Western wasn’t the only Howard County team to compete in Class C.

Northwestern High School’s Tiger Pride Band placed seventh, putting on a performance titled “The Beauty of Nothingness.” It was the first time the two schools performed at the state finals together in the same class.

Northwestern Band Director Jeremy Snyder said he was proud of the band’s performance on Saturday. The Tiger Pride usually competes in Class D.

“We’re really, really happy with how they performed,” Snyder said Sunday. “They brought a lot of energy.”

Area bands have historically performed well at state. This year was no exception.

The Lewis Cass High School Marching Kings were crowned state champions in Class D on Saturday.

The Maconaquah High School Marching Braves also earned their first state championship last month in the Scholastic Class B State Finals.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich.


Trending Video

Recommended for you