This Season, the Band Plays Defense, Too

Song excerpts during the quiet moments of football games help to increase their energy


David Vahey

The marching band performs at the football against Benedictine

Notice an increase of electricity at football games this year? 

Louder fans, more intense moments, and energetic music thundering from the endzone? 

At head football coach Alex Nicholson’s request, the marching band is now playing defense tags during football games.

Played throughout the game, defense tags are brief song excerpts that fill up quieter moments and excite the crowd. According to marching band director Jason Clemons, tags are 10-15 seconds long and fit in during third down situations and time-outs. 

The band plays excerpts of John William’s “Imperial March,” The White Stripes’ “7 Nation Army,” Queen’s “We are the Champions,” Black Sabbath’s “Ironman,” and the ESPN theme song. 

Varsity football coach, Coach Nicholson asked the band to play these to create noise and enhance the environment.  “I think the band being involved and having a set routine on what to play and when to play it creates an atmosphere like a DI college program,” Nicholson said. He said his goal is to “create that DI college experience here in Shaker”.  

Clemons also added that defense tags are a “college thing”, but liked the idea and he even thought of playing the pieces last season. When Nicholson requested for the pieces to be played, the band was already prepared to put a new routine into action. 

One of the main goals of these extra pieces is to get the crowd energized and into the game. “I don’t know if it’s just because of the intense game, but the stands feel way more hyped up than normal,” fan Tyler Lencewicz commented at the home-opener against Garfield Heights. 

“We are playing a lot more and you can feel that the crowd’s getting a lot more into the game,” band member Jacob Feinleib said, “And it was fun to contribute by playing songs that make it easy for the crowd to get loud like, ‘We are the Champions’”. 

“People in the audience, people in the crowd, have talked to me and said they’ve noticed a difference,” Nicholson said. He wants the loud environment and hyped up student section to become a routine for football games.

The increase of playing is also beneficial for band members themselves. “It gets a little boring just sitting there when we’re not playing, not playing, not playing. It’s hard to see the game from our end zone, but when I’m calling up tunes to be ready, letting them know where we’re at in the game, it helps quite a bit,” Clemons said. 

This year, there is a good relationship between the football team and the band. “Some football coaches really like the band, and others couldn’t care less. Coach Nicholson seems to be one that really likes us and uses us as an asset, it’s nice to be wanted,” Clemons said. 

Nicholson added that the noise and excitement that comes with a 300 person band makes a big difference during games. 

Nicholson said, “The two largest organizations in the school are the band and the football team, each culture can change the whole school’s culture completely.” 

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