A long awaited reunion

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Top: Pike Road Patriots celebrate their multiple trophies won from competitions (photo credits Lotte White) Bottom: Homewood drum majors Russell Dearing, Bailey Pearson, Watson Lee, Harper Sheils, and Jill Ferderber (left to right) lead the Patriot Marching Band across Lakeshore Drive to Samford University (photo credits Matt Davis)

Russell Dearing, Staff Writer

Seeing double Friday night? The reason means more than you think. 

Attendees of Homewood’s football game on Friday night will be treated to a unique pre-game performance from the band. Or bands. 

After their victory on Nov. 4, Homewood will host the Pike Road Patriots in their second-round playoff game. While cheer and support will be abundant from both crowds, it’s not the events on the field that are at the forefront of many people’s minds. 

Pike Road is a relatively new school system founded in 2010 but is growing, having expanded and opened new, updated school buildings in 2018. 

Their varsity football team won the 5A state championship last season, contributing to the program’s reclassification to 6A, where they have toppled formidable opponents in a successful season thus far.

Pike Road’s football team is not the only organization growing with the school system. 

The Pike Road Patriot Marching Band has taken the music scene by storm, competing in multiple competitions and winning much more than their fair share. They share many characteristics with Homewood’s band, including the Patriot mascot and the tricornered hat. 

Glenn Lewis plays his 50th-anniversary bass drum in the stands (photo credits Matt Davis)

The band director for Pike Road is a name that might sound familiar to those who have been around the Homewood’s band for some time. Patrick Darby was the first three-year drum major the Homewood Patriot Marching Band ever had, and he is ecstatic to show off his band to the crowd he once amazed years ago. 

But this Friday night goes beyond nostalgic glee. Darby’s best friend throughout high school is now a present-day associate band director at Homewood, Ryan Murrell. 

This night will be a dream come true for both of them. While Darby was a drum major for three out of the four years of his high school tenure, Murrell can not say the same. 

Although he went on to later become a drum major for one the most prestigious musical universities in the country, Jacksonville State, Murrell never was a drum major at Homewood. 

Friday night will be a chance for the two to finally conduct a band together, as the Pike Road Patriot Marching Band joins the Homewood Patriot Marching Band during its pregame performance. 

The joint band will play an armed forces salute in honor of Veteran’s Day and “God Bless America.” Homewood will then conclude the presentation with the playing of their alma mater and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

Murrell is beyond excited about this opportunity he thought he would never have. He said he and Darby would “always joke about doing it, but it would be a long shot” because of how many things would have to align for the dream to come true.

Despite being almost 100 miles apart, their relationship is as strong as ever. “We talk every day going to work about band, about life, and about everything in general,” he confessed. “We hardly go one day without talking.” 

Murrell feels “truly honored” for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “This is kind of one of those rare moments that we get to ‘be drum majors together’ when we became friends almost 20 years ago.”

Band not only unites people in music, but it also unites people in friendship and I am proud to say that I met my best friend in band here at Homewood.”

— Ryan Murrell

Murrell and Darby perfectly exemplify the kind of relationship a band can form that far surpasses the end of time spent playing together.