A high school band hit a high note at Wednesday night's Holiday Bowl, substituting for the University of Nebraska's snowed-in contingent and winning over the crowd as the Cornhuskers rolled to victory.
Nebraska's marching band was unable to make it to season-capping contest against Arizona at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium, stranded back in Lincoln by a powerful snowstorm. School officials first put out a call for musically inclined alumni who lived in San Diego, hoping to put together a rag-tag band that could at least make it through the fight song.
Then they found a better solution: The Lincoln Southeast High School band was already in San Diego to take part in a halftime show featuring a range high school marchers.
When pressed into fulltime duty, the prep musicians happily obliged. And with the Cornhuskers rolling to a 33-0 victory, they didn't just sit on their hands.
"I'd call us more of a band-aid then a replacement," baritone player Matt Eschliman, a sophomore at Lincoln Southeast High School, told the Omaha World-Herald before the game.
The band-aid worked excellently, as Husker Extra reported live from the game:
The band, led by director R.J. Metteer, received a loud ovation from the Nebraska fans as it was introduced during the pregame show as “representing the University of Nebraska.”
We then heard “March of the Cornhuskers,” followed by “Hail, Varsity!” Then band members filed into the corner of the lower stands, shed their Southeast band uniforms and showed off the red Nebraska T-shirts they’d been wearing underneath.
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The band didn't get started learning the new material until this week. Metteer told the World-Herald that his group ditched a sightseeing itinerary for hours of practice on Monday night, learning “Hail Varsity,” “Dear Old Nebraska U” and “March of the Cornhuskers.”
"I think it's almost overwhelming," Metteer said. "We're not quite used to things like this, so it's been a lot of fun for the kids."
Reviews have been unanimously glowing. As Husker Extra's Brian Rosenthal wrote, "The volume of 100 instruments isn’t what you’d hear from the volume of 300, but who cares? Outstanding job, Marching Knights."