FA band heads to Detroit for state finals performance

Dennis Mansfield, Contributing Writer

FIFE LAKE – The Forest Area varsity football team didn’t make it to the state playoffs. In fact, the team didn’t even make it to the end of the season, with school officials canceling the football squad’s final six games due to a lack of available healthy players.

However, that isn’t stopping the Forest Area High School Marching Band from boarding a bus at 10 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, and heading for Ford Field in Detroit for the MHSAA’s Division No. 6 state championship game. But, instead of cheering for their own Warriors, they’ll play in support of Maple City-Glen Lake.

It will be a repeat performance for the Marching Warriors, who made national headlines after agreeing to play at a Glen Lake varsity football game on Sept. 27.

It made for a great story. A school with no football team accepts an invitation to send its popular marching band to play for a school with a winning squad on the gridiron, but also one with a struggling music program.

The sequel does differ slightly from the original story. This time, FA Band Director Brandon Deike admits he called Glen Lake to see if he could take the band’s show on the road.

“We volunteered on this one,” Deike said. “I was following them through the playoffs and we finalized it through MHSAA that this would be allowed (on Monday, Nov. 25).

“Mr. (Mark) Mattson jumped on board as soon as I said we'd be honored to be their stand-in band and started getting with the appropriate officials,” he added, referring to Glen Lake’s athletic director.

Forest Area band members had hoped to repeat the magic of their previous performance, attending at least one more of the Lakers’ games.

“We had made it up as a student section to one of their other home games,” Deike said. “But, we couldn't put enough kids together during their playoff run because of the days.”

The 12-1 Lakers punched their ticket to Detroit with a thrilling 31-30 overtime win in its semi-final matchup with Montague on Nov. 23 in Clare. And, it didn’t take long for Deike to see if his band could hop on the Glen Lake bandwagon one more time.

“We have been emailing and texting all day (Monday) trying to get the paperwork done and approved,” he said. “Trip of a lifetime. I tell every kid that starts band in sixth grade, (that) if they give me one year of hard work, I'll give them a lifetime of memories and this is one of them right here.”

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