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First Football Game Bittersweet at Plymouth High

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Band members will wear armbands in school colors this year to remember the life their classmates lived.
PLYMOUTH — While the first high school football game of the year is normally causefor pure celebration, the first game at Plymouth High School game hadan air of solemnity about it Friday as the school remembered 10 studentsit lost last month.

The students were all members of the school's band, which performregularly on the football field during games. All were riding in asport-utility vehicle that crashed, head on, with a tractor-trailer inJuly. The students were on a lunch break from a summer band camp at thetime.

On the athletic field, the Plymouth Vikings prepared for battle. Theirminds weren't necessarily on football. In the band room, the contest wasone of emotion as band members readied themselves for a performancewithout their friends.

Band member Reid Owens says when the band marches, there are other peoplebeside each member on the field. Looking over to an empty spot where aformer friend once was, a person can't help but think about it. It's kindof depressing.

Band director Leroy Bland says the band members were anxious for the showto go on as planned. Through their music they will deal with their grief.The band lost eight wind instrument players. So major adjustments had tobe made to the drill.o

"There are no better kids in this country or in this world than the kidswe work with," Bland boasts. "For them to live through what they've livedthrough and come back together like they have, that's a mark of a strongperson. All of these kids have done that."

Friday night, band members were spending time together in practice and inspirit before their performance. They wore arm bands in school colors toremember their friends as they lived, rather than how the died.

The half time show, ironically, was music composed from the movie "Mission Impossible."

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