For the first time in Tioga County, the two rival schools, North Penn-Mansfield and Wellsboro, joined bands forces to play during the halftime show of the first playoff game of 2019 football season.
The two schools had played each other in the final game of the regular season, with Wellsboro winning, which created some intense emotions for both schools. Despite these differences and the history of this rivalry, the two bands came together and played their hearts out.
This event started with the North Penn-Mansfield band director, Jon Ruth, contacting Wellsboro’s band director, Daniel Sensenig, to see if he was interested in combining bands since most of the Wellsboro band was absent due to other school-based obligations.
At first, Ruth was concerned about the rivalry, but Sensenig assured him that things would be fine, and they continued planning for the Saturday play-off game. After many emails and exchanging of plans, both band directors agreed to play “Final Countdown,” arranged by John Higgins, “Sweet Caroline,” arranged by Tim Waters, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” arranged by Jay Bocook.
A few days before the Saturday play-off game, Ruth gave his students the music for the three numbers while the Wellsboro band read through and practiced “Sweet Caroline.”
Then, on Saturday, a few hours before the game started, the North Penn-Mansfield band joined Wellsboro band members in their band room.
Prior to starting, Ruth spoke to both bands and said, “A few days ago, one of my students said, ‘Aren’t we supposed to hate them?’”
His response was, “This is a great opportunity for both of our bands to come together as one marching band for tonight.”
With limited time, the bands practiced once in the band room and then practiced again in block structure on the football field. Once everyone figured out what they were supposed to do, people from both schools went back into the school to share pizza and get to know one another.
When it was halftime, both bands marched onto the football field together, readying themselves to play as one band. They performed beautifully, and it was truly impressive how well the performance worked, especially since the bands had so little practice together before they had to perform.
In the end, although Wellsboro was beaten by North Penn-Mansfield in a hard-fought playoff game, the two rival schools were united for one night through their marching bands.