Granite Bay seniors become ‘Blue Devils’

Win national title in drum corps competition
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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The two rookies weren’t even allowed to call themselves “Blue Devils” until more than a month of rehearsing with the team.

The Concord Blue Devil Drum and Bugle Corps is such a renowned and elite group that members come from all over the world to try out. Out of 150 people, only three are still in high school — and two of them go to Granite Bay High School.

Seniors Brian Coon and Scott Downs recently earned the privilege of becoming Blue Devils and this summer their team won the Drum Corps International World Championships in Indianapolis. This marks the Blue Devils’15th championship.

As a rookie color guard, Coon, 17, was tasked with holding the American flag for 30 minutes during the final ceremony before judges announced the winner.

“I’m like, ‘hurry up, hurry up.’ I was just like, ‘thank you for being over,’” Coon said.

Downs, 17, was able to enjoy the moment more fully. He plays the euphonium, a brass instrument. His favorite memory from the ceremony is his instructor placing the gold medal around my neck.

“I was rehearsing just to be the best I can, so winning it was pretty amazing,” Downs said.

The competition wrapped up a 60-day tour across the United States, which began in California and proceeded through the Midwest, up the East Coast and then to the NFL Colts’ stadium in Indianapolis.

The Blue Devils traveled an estimated 10,000 miles. Their caravan included three charter buses of corps members, two VIP/staff buses, two equipment semi-trucks, one kitchen semi-truck and one souvenir trailer. The team competed in 25 shows leading up to the finals.

“They went undefeated the entire summer, which is almost unheard of,” said Scott’s mom, Linda Downs.

The Blue Devils spent all day, every day together.

“Your life is very minimalistic,” Coon said. “All you do is practice 12 hours a day. It never gets old when you love it.”

In 2011, Coon joined the Sacramento Mandarins Drum and Bugle Corps as a 15 year old. Last winter, he won Performer of the Year for the California Color Guard Circuit.

“We watched drum corps videos all the time and would basically just drool over drum corps,” Coon said.

He auditioned for Blue Devils in November 2011, made the waiting list and was asked to join in April. The color guard brings the story and emotions to life, he said. Their routines are designed by instructor Scott Chandler, who is also a choreographer for “Glee.”

“(As a rookie), you’re expected to come to the bar veterans set and perform with all your heart,” Coon said “It’s a big deal because it’s (an) entitlement.”

Scott Downs joined Sacramento Mandarins at 14 years old in 2010, always hoping to someday become a Blue Devil — he had seen them perform in 2009.

“It just blew me away and I knew I wanted to be part of something that incredible,” he said.

Scott Downs earned a spot in January. He was also recently selected for the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Marching Band and will perform during halftime of a bowl game in January in front of an audience of 40,000 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.