First Football Game Bittersweet at Plymouth High
Posted August 22, 1997
PLYMOUTH — While the first high school football game of the year is normally cause for pure celebration, the first game at Plymouth High School game had an air of solemnity about it Friday as the school remembered 10 students it lost last month.
The students were all members of the school's band, which perform regularly on the football field during games. All were riding in a sport-utility vehicle that crashed, head on, with a tractor-trailer in July. The students were on a lunch break from a summer band camp at the time.
On the athletic field, the Plymouth Vikings prepared for battle. Their minds weren't necessarily on football. In the band room, the contest was one of emotion as band members readied themselves for a performance without their friends.
Band member Reid Owens says when the band marches, there are other people beside each member on the field. Looking over to an empty spot where a former friend once was, a person can't help but think about it. It's kind of depressing.
Band director Leroy Bland says the band members were anxious for the show to go on as planned. Through their music they will deal with their grief. The band lost eight wind instrument players. So major adjustments had to be made to the drill. o
"There are no better kids in this country or in this world than the kids we work with," Bland boasts. "For them to live through what they've lived through and come back together like they have, that's a mark of a strong person. All of these kids have done that."
Friday night, band members were spending time together in practice and in spirit before their performance. They wore arm bands in school colors to remember their friends as they lived, rather than how the died.
The half time show, ironically, was music composed from the movie "Mission Impossible."