Last year, the Desert Vista High School marching band took second place in the inaugural Arizona State Marching Band Championship. The first place team beat them by four-tenths of a point.
This year was a completely different story that had a much better ending for the Ahwatukee Foothills high school.
Not only did DV win the state championship this year, but they did it by almost 10 times last year's margin. DV scored 89.2 points to second place Mountain Ridge High School's score of 85.35. Gilbert High School came in third place with 85.25 points.
It was a big win for the marching band in more ways then one. Last year's team saw nearly 45 seniors compete, compared to 22 for this year's team. Of the 141 members, band director Josh Thye estimated 75 percent were either a freshman or a sophomore.
This gave the upperclassmen a chance to step up and mentor the younger students.
"I really felt like the seniors this year, they had a task at hand and they knew it," Thye said. "They took the time to spend with (the underclassmen). The group as a whole has come a long way since May."
The Arizona State Marching Band Championship took place on Nov. 13 at Phoenix College and involved 30 high schools from across the state, 10 in each division. The semi-finals went on the week before when the field was cut from 90 bands down to 30.
The state championship capped off the end of the regular season but there is still work to be done for the marching band. After taking second place last year, they were invited to march in the Fiesta Bowl parade on Dec. 31. Taking first place secured an invitation to next year's parade.
Thye has a staff of nine, including Mike Krill, assistant director who wrote the music; Mark Richardson, who worked on the drill formation; and Brian Olson, who did the guard choreography.
For their efforts, DV also won Outstanding Music Performance at the Championship.
"It was a long time in the making for Desert Vista," Thye said. "We had a very strong performance in every aspect."
Before the state championship two years ago schools only received an overall rating for their performance and were not ranked numerically.