Grove City feeds off marching band
Grove City High School football coach Matt Jordan would like to think his program has a distinct home-field advantage.
A football Friday night at Grove City usually features a festive atmosphere, which includes contributions from the school's marching band.
"Friday night is a show," Jordan said. "It's a show for your community and in Grove City we're very fortunate to have a great band. It's been very important for me no matter where I've been as the head football coach that the band and the football team get along and work together."
The Dawgs hope to take advantage of their home field when they play host to Gahanna on Friday, Oct. 12.
"The atmosphere is just crazy here," senior inside linebacker Tyler Conner said. "I love the atmosphere here and I love how many people come to our games and support us. The band adds that final touch to the atmosphere. When the band is playing, it's a whole different game almost. They really get you pumped up. I'm sure it's really intimidating for the other team how loud they are."
Gahanna is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division, tied with Pickerington Central for second behind Pickerington North (4-0).
Grove City is 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the league.
Last season, Gahanna defeated the Dawgs 42-0. The Lions have won the last two meetings, with Grove City's last win coming in 2008, 29-21.
Although they emphasize sportsmanship and following the rules, Jordan and band director George Edge agreed that the excitement generated by the band can sometimes result in penalties called against the visiting team.
Positioned in the north end zone, the band can make it difficult for opponents to communicate.
"We kind of look at it like Ohio State football where the band is pretty integral and always playing at every first down and making a lot of noise when the defense is on the field," said Edge, who has been band director at Grove City for 26 years.
Edge recalls the disappointment of 2009 when fall extra-curricular activities were canceled in the South-Western City Schools after a levy failure.
"It was a very horrible year for our students," he said. "You just can't take anything for granted. It's a wonderful blessing to be able to go out and play and perform and support your community on Friday nights."
During the Dawgs' last playoff season in 2005, the team was 5-1 at home and finished 8-4 overall after losing to Hilliard Davidson 24-7 in a Division I, Region 3 semifinal. Grove City defeated Brookhaven 24-10 at home in the first round.
The marching band has traveled around the country and overseas to perform, including trips to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., in 2010, Phoenix for the Fiesta Bowl parade in 2009, London in 2005 and Pasadena, Calif., for the Rose Bowl parade in 2000.
The band again will perform in the Fiesta Bowl parade Dec. 29.
The football program and band also work in conjunction on fundraisers, helping to benefit both programs.
"I enjoy working with Matt," Edge said. "He's a great person to work with and it's important that it's a community effort when you're at a game. It's not the band and the football team. It's together we're Grove City."
"Our band is so professional and so classy in the way they do things and the way that George runs it in terms of the crispness of the unit," Jordan said. "The music is always great and we're happy to be a part of it. We'd like to win some more football games and make it even more enjoyable, and hopefully we can get to that."