The Delaware Hayes High School marching band is coming off its most successful year ever -- and now it's hungry for more.
In director Andy Doherty's first year, the band qualified for the Ohio Music Education Association's state competition and earned the top rating -- a first for Hayes marchers.
"We received the highest score we can receive, which is a one, and that has never before happened for the Delaware Hayes marching band," Doherty said.
In competition, bands are rated on a scale of one to five, with one being the highest.
The band also qualified for the Mid States Band Association competition Sept. 7, which includes marching bands from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky.
The band will take part in six competitions this year in addition to performing at every Hayes football game.
The 65 musicians and 15 color guard members have rehearsed 190 hours since July 1. Doherty said the time commitment from students is a big one.
"From July to November, students are practicing every day, sometimes twice a day," he said. "When the (marching) band season ends, we begin the concert band season."
This summer, students spent a week preparing for Delaware's Fourth of July parade, then spent three days each week in band camp.
During band camp, members marched on pavement in three- to four-hour blocks -- an average of eight hours a day -- while working on the show they will play for the entire season.
The band will debut the show at Hayes' first football game Aug. 30.
Doherty said the 81/2-minute show is called "Escape from Within" and has a "darkness to light" theme. It features contemporary songs such as Fix You by Coldplay and Aha! by Imogen Heap.
"The show starts dark and mysterious and ends upbeat and light," Doherty said. "The halftime show is all about giving a great performance and is full of high energy. Students really look forward to showing off how hard they've been working."
He said being part of the marching band through high school and college was a great experience for him and he enjoys making sure his students have the same experience.
"The highlight for me is showing the students how this a long journey," Doherty said. "It's not just one moment that defines the season, but the process of growing with the same people over the course of the season.
"It's cool to see the students' progress, not just as musicians, but people as well."
Doherty said he's excited about seeing students commit to the long hours of rehearsal and to representing the school so well in competitions around the state.
He thanked the community for its support over the past year, especially in its donations for new uniforms.
"We hadn't purchased new uniforms in 13 years and now we have brand-new uniforms that look great, thanks to the community's donations," he said.
"Come see us in our new uniforms as we play this football season."