Looking back to 1986 and 1987 it becomes clear that it’s easier to become a champion than it is to stay a champion. Retaining the DCA Championship proved to be another adventure and extremely difficult.
The winter of 1986-87 was good by Bushwacker standards, and by now it has become common knowledge that the Bushwackers very rarely have good winters. The instructional staff stayed basically the same with Gary as show coordinator. By spring the corps was in good shape with a entirely new show with the exception of the ’86 exit Aries Eyes.
Administratively there were internal changes in the corps. Mike Olszewski stayed on as Director but three other individuals emerged. Nick Yaworski, who had been associated with the Sunrisers and as a DCA officer for many years, came on with the corps in 1986. Tim Bell had been involved with colorguards, drum corps and had adjudicated in his career. Warren Pinder had been in the Sunrisers for years before he came over to the Bushwackers in their first year back in 1982.
While Bush was going along at a good pace so were a number of other corps. The Sunrisers, Caballeros, Steel City, Buccaneers and Rochester all were going to have good seasons. In fact, 1987 was the most competitive large group of corps since the 1983 season. And one important thing was for certain, the days of the Bushwackers sneaking up on corps were gone forever. Now we became the hunted and not the hunter.
The Sunrisers took the early lead and everyone was left chasing them. Bush had left Allentown in ’86 with their first win and would not win another show for nearly two years. It wasn’t that the corps was a “flash in the pan” because they did stay close to the top of the pack. This was a year of adjustment to great expectations. The 87 corps had to learn to live with the success of the ’86 corps.
Certain DCA championships take on their own identities. 1987 was the year of the big rain. Never before had a championship been canceled due to the weather until 1987. It seemed that most corps performed in prelims during a deluge of rain and all corps had to march in the mud of the field. It must be remembered that not until recently that prelims and finals were held on separate days. In the past prelims were held on Sunday morning and afternoon, and finals were held Sunday night. So when it rained late Saturday night, Sunday morning and afternoon the field was in terrible condition. DCA decided to move finals to Monday afternoon (Labor Day) hoping that the weather would improve.
Prelims proved to be an exercise in concentration. Any corps that let the rain or the field condition get to them suffered. This year the Bushwackers were on in the second half of the block of ten. They performed well, but they couldn’t put the whole thing together. It was good, but not good enough. The corps knew they could do better in finals.
Bush placed third in prelims behind Sun and Cabs respectively, and fourth through sixth held Steel City, Bucs and Rochester. The Sunrisers took the wind out of the corps by posting a 94.84 in prelims to Bush’s 92.96. A total of 1.82 pts. separated 3rd through 6th.
There would be no finals. The weather was miserable due to the continuing rain and the field only got worse. J. Birney Crum Stadium in Allentown is a school district field and the school district decided not to let DCA use the field for finals in fear of permanent damage before the football season.
The word of the cancellation of finals reached the Bushwackers at their rehearsal field Monday morning. The corps was stunned. The scores from prelims would stand as final scores and the only positive thing to come out of this was that the drumline again took high percussion for the second year in a row, and even that didn’t sink in until later. Other than that the corps was devastated that they would not have the chance to defend their title in finals. Bush had a good shot at second and they wouldn’t catch the Sunrisers, but this left the season in a huge void. The sin of it was Bush in 1987 was a more talented and better corps than the championship corps of 1986, and in time the 1987 corps will only be known as a third place corps. This is unfortunate and unfair.
The corps performed in a standstill exhibition on the track and went home to New Jersey in the rain.
Pellet Suite, Marguerite, Corner Pocket, Aries Eyes
Drum Majors: Laurie Kunzle & Bob Tobin
PRELIMS: 3rd – 92.96
FINALS: canceled due to rain see Prelims.