2014 Grand National Championships

View full finals recap here.

1. (97.15) Tarpon Springs, FL
2. (97.00) Broken Arrow, OK
3. (95.35) Avon, IN
4. (94.90) Carmel, IN
5. (92.05) William Mason, OH
6. (90.05) Flower Mound, TX
7. (89.45) Wando, SC
8. (89.45) Homestead, IN
9. (88.80) Kennesaw Mountain, GA
10. (87.45) Marian Catholic, IL
11. (86.55) Union, OK
12. (86.45) Lawrence Township, IN

Music: Tarpon Springs, FL
Visual: Broken Arrow, OK
GE: Tarpon Springs, FL
View full semifinals recap here.

Class A
1. Adair County, KY
2. Bellbrook, OH
3. Archbishop Alter, OH

Music: Adair County, KY
Visual: Adair County, KY
GE: Adair County, KY

Class AA
1. Tarpon Springs, FL
2. Marian Catholic, IL
3. North Hardin, KY

Music: Tarpon Springs, FL
Visual: Tarpon Springs, FL
GE: Tarpon Springs, FL

Class AAA
1. Kennesaw Mountain, GA
2. Dobyns-Bennett, TN
3. Wakeland, TX

Music: Kennesaw Mountain, GA
Visual: Wakeland, TX
GE: Kennesaw Mountain, GA

Class AAAA
1. Broken Arrow, OK
2. Avon, IN
3. Carmel, IN

Music: Carmel, IN
Visual: (tie) Avon, IN
and Carmel, IN
GE: Broken Arrow, OK
View full prelims 1 recap here.
View full prelims 2 recap here.
View full combined prelims recap here.
Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The 2014 Grand National Championships were held Nov 13–15 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Ninety-four bands from across the country competed, and after three rounds of competition, Tarpon Springs was named national champion.

We don’t generally print bylines here at HornRank as most of our content is a mashup of somewhere between three and 11 people’s opinions. For this year’s Grand Nats predictions and analysis, we wanted to do something different. While we’re still only publishing one single set of predictions, we’re keeping everyone’s raw analysis conveniently color-coded. Here’s the key: Jeremiah’s writing in blue, Jakob’s writing in green, Grayson’s writing in red, and Will’s writing in orange. All the text that’s in black is back to the old fashioned way of teamwork.

1. Broken Arrow is having a great year. They look as good as they always do, but this year they actually have a legitimate chance of winning the Grand National Finals music caption for the first time ever. They've been named national champion twice, but have never managed to grab the outstanding music award. FaceMe is an awesome production that no words can describe because no one really knows what it's about. Much like their productions in 2011 and 2012, this a show that designed to show the judges and the audience that BA knows how to move and play...though not always simultaneously.
I saw Broken Arrow at BOA St. Louis and had my mind blown. Fantastic sound and most of their forms were literally flawless. They are my favorite to take home first place and they perform like they really want it badly. I believe they’ll get it this year.
Broken Arrow has been putting fantastic, powerful shows on the field for quite some time now. This year is no different. They have impressed almost everybody who has seen them live. We expect nothing less than a terrific performance in finals. They are our front-runner for the Eagle, and will have a tough battle against the likes of Avon and Tarpon Springs. We are thrilled to see the final product of Broken Arrow on Saturday night.

2. Avon has long been in contention for the Eagle, and this year proves no different. The last two times Avon and Broken Arrow met were in 2011 and 2012. Broken Arrow edged out a higher score both years but by a very slight margin in 2011. Avon is certainly capable of regaining its first National Championship since 2010. They have performed incredibly well all year in both BOA and state championship performances. We expect them to continue their momentum in a highly contested field of championship caliber bands.
Avon can be described in one word: bold. They take chances, push boundaries, and redefine the limits of what high schoolers can do on a football field. With a good run in finals, they could take music, GE, and the eagle, but even though the only perfect score ever in the history of BOA was given to Avon by a visual ensemble judge, they'll have to show some major improvements to win visual.

3. Tarpon Springs is having an incredible year. While a victory in Atlanta is no new accomplishment for the program, many have been impressed with this year's show. Man vs. Machine offers incredible visual moments which are accompanied by impressive musical elements as well. We look forward to seeing their growth since Atlanta and how they match up with the AAAA talents.
Tarpon Springs has won the Atlanta super regional every year that Broken Arrow didn't go, so the fact that they won isn't huge, but the score gap between Tarpon and Mason was impressive. That gap alone pushes them up into the elite group of bands fighting for the Eagle.
People forget that Tarpon Springs beat Broken Arrow in prelims of Atlanta in 2013 as well. Very few bands have come close to beating Broken Arrow, let alone actually scoring higher in a round of competition. I just don't know if they'll be able to pull the Music Ensemble or Music GE scores to be competitive with the big sounds of the top AAAA bands.
Tarpon Springs looks absolutely phenomenal this year. I would not be surprised at all if they managed to take the Eagle. 

4. Carmel has mastered the art of using tarps without tripping over them. Looking back over this season, I don’t see Carmel as a serious contender for the national championship, but the visual caption could be theirs. Carmel has consistently defeated Avon in the visual caption and we expect them to put up a strong fight against Broken Arrow and Tarpon Springs. All three of these groups have excellent visual programs, so winning the visual caption would be a huge accomplishment for Carmel regardless of their overall placement.
Two years removed from the championship, Carmel will be competing to stay in the top tier of finalists. After placing behind Avon at both BOA and state championships, they certainly have much to prove this weekend. I expect to see a terrific visual performance which could possibly take the caption.

5. Marian Catholic looks to be back to their usual brilliant selves after a disappointing last couple of years. A third place finish at Indianapolis (behind only Avon and Carmel) certainly seems proof that Marian Catholic is a true force to be reckoned with once again. Many people see them as a threat to win the eagle. Many others see them as barely making finals. I see them as a great program, but just outside the group of serious contenders.
Marian Catholic is one of the very few competitive private school marching bands, but they've earned a reputation of excellence that causes most people to think they're just like the huge AAAA schools they so often compete with. Their performance this season has given us no reason to believe they'll break their finals streak, in fact Marian is known for their exponential improvement in the last weeks leading up to Grand Nats, so we wouldn't be surprised if they managed to sneak up even closer to the top this year.
With an incredible third place finish at Indianapolis, Marian Catholic has set themselves up for a successful Grand Nationals appearance. After their less than fantastic showing in Indy last year, many questioned the likelihood of them performing in finals. However, they whipped their show into great shape within the last week. We expect them to once again push very hard in this final week. They could even be in contention for a top three placement.

6. William Mason has been getting better and better every year. This year's seniors were freshmen the first time Mason made finals, so it would be sick to see them win the whole thing this year. Unfortunately, that's probably not going to happen. I was pretty hopeful about their season when I saw them signed up for Atlanta, it was a great opportunity to compete against Harrison, Wando, and Tarpon. While they proved their status against Harrison and Wando, the huge gap created by Tarpon all but disqualifies them from the contender status.
William Mason is one of my personal favorites. Although they do not realistically have a chance of winning the whole thing, they are certainly a good band getting better. I expect them to be in competition for a championship in the next four or five years, but for now, sixth is an accurate representation of this band program.

7. Wando got a new band director this year, and his name is Bobby Lambert. He’s loved by virtually everyone in the marching band world, but that’s not the reason Wando is continuing their tradition of excellence. He might be the reason for their incredible, symphonic-band-on-a-field sound that really sets them apart from other schools. In BOA events, music accounts for 60% of the total score, so their sound and the effect it generates should be appropriately rewarded.
Wando finished 13th in our poll last season, and they're a much better band now than the one who made finals in 2012. They're a near lock.

8. Homestead spent several years away from the BOA competitive scene, but has come back with great success as expected. A perennial powerhouse at ISSMA, Homestead has been among the best Indiana bands for years now. This season has solidified their talent with a high caliber finish at the Indianapolis Super Regional. The program looks to recapture it's BOA success with a finals appearance.
I couldn't be more excited to see Homestead back in the BOA world, but the fantasies of earning the eagle on their first attempt in 20 years is a little bit over-optimistic. I expect three excellent runs from his group and many more finals appearances in the coming years.
As much as I like Homestead and their show this year, they are not champion-quality… right now. Maybe in the near future.

9. Franklin looks to make a major step in their program’s history by making Grand National Finals in 2014. The group has progressed very well throughout the season by improving in placements at Louisville and then at Indianapolis. We expect them to have made major strides in the past two weeks heading into Grand Nationals. Similar to Lake Central, Franklin was on the brink of a finals appearance last year with a 15th place finish in semifinals. This is the fourth straight year in which the band has travelled to Grand Nationals. A four year climb from out of semifinals in 2011 to finals performance in 2014 would be remarkable.
Franklin went to Grand Nats for the first time in 2011, when their current seniors were freshmen. It would be crazy for one senior class to have gone from a Grand Nats participant to a Grand National finalist over the course of their high school career. If the Indy Super Regional results told us one thing, it’s that Franklin knows how to play their horns. I could see them winning the Class AAA Championship, but to do so, they’ll have to improve their visual game more than Kennesaw improves their musical game. In Franklin's short history as a finals bubble band, they haven't yet shown that they can achieve the rapid improvement in the final weeks of the season that so many other bands on this list have been known for.

10. Kennesaw Mountain aims to defend the Cobb County grasp on Class AAA. The past two years, Kennesaw Mountain and Harrison have been able to bring home the class championship. This year will be even more interesting as Franklin seems to be a very comparable opponent. While the class championship is important, the larger goal for Kennesaw Mountain will be to appear once again in finals.
As one of the two serious contenders for the AAA Class Champion position, Kennesaw Mountain gave incredible performances at both the Powder Springs and Jacksonville regionals. While their visual performance was virtually flawless, their music performance left something to be desired. The simple fact is if Kennesaw improves musically more than Franklin improves visually, the champion status is theirs.

11. Flower Mound did pretty well at San Antonio and UIL state finals last week. While their placement wasn't extremely high at either, they were the only band there who's season didn't end at last week's UIL State Championships. They knew that and their staff knew that, which means last weekend wasn't the peak of their season as it was for so many others. I can't wait to see how much they've improved in these two weeks between San Antonio and Grand Nats.
Flower Mound's season is very similar to Round Rock in 2013. Last year, Round Rock went from ninth at SA to fourth at Grand Nationals, and winning the music caption in semifinals. Could they do the same thing this season?

12. Lake Central had one of the most memorable shows of 2013, and their performance of "Pure Imagination" was one of the signature moments of the weekend. But can they pull off that same type of iconic performance again this year, a performance strong enough to earn their first Grand National Finals appearance?
Lake Central came incredibly close to appearing in their first finals appearance last year by placing just two spots out of finals. While they didn’t have quite the success at the Indianapolis Super Regional as in 2013, we still think they have a significant shot this year.
Lake Central has been on the verge of making finals so many times, but this is finally the year. Their outstanding ISSMA state finals performance proved that they have the show and the skill to be in finals, it just depends on how hard the push themselves in the final week.

Finals Predictions
1. Broken Arrow, OK
2. Avon, IN
3. Tarpon Springs, FL
4. Carmel, IN
5. Marian Catholic, IL
6. William Mason, OH
7. Wando, SC
8. Homestead, IN
9. Franklin, TN
10. Kennesaw Mountain, GA
11. Flower Mound, TX
12. Lake Central, IN

Music: Avon, IN
Visual: Tarpon Springs, FL
GE: Broken Arrow, OK

Semifinals Predictions
Class A
1. Bellbrook, OH
2. Adair County, OH
3. Archbishop Alter, OH

Music: Bellbrook, OH
Visual: Bellbrook, OH
GE: Bellbrook, OH

Class AA
1. Tarpon Springs, FL
2. Marian Catholic, IL
3. North Hardin, KY

Music: Marian Catholic, IL
Visual: Tarpon Springs, FL
GE: Tarpon Springs, FL

Class AAA
1. Franklin, TN
2. Kennesaw Mountain, GA
3. Dobyns-Bennett, TN

Music: Franklin, TN
Visual: Kennesaw Mountain, GA
GE: Franklin, TN

Class AAAA
1. Broken Arrow, OK
2. Avon, IN
3. Carmel, IN

Music: Avon, IN
Visual: Carmel, IN
GE: Broken Arrow, OK

Prelims Predictions
Top 11 Thursday: Avon, Ben Davis, Center GroveHomestead, Lafayette, Lawrence TownshipNorth Hardin, O’Fallon TownshipUnion, Upland, and William Mason.

Top 11 Friday: Broken ArrowCarmel, CastleFlower MoundFranklinKennesaw MountainLake CentralMarian CatholicOwassoTarpon Springs, and Wando.

Next 8: CentervilleDobyns-Bennett, Father Ryan, Nation Ford, Panther Creek, Plymouth-Canton, Reeths-Puffer, and Wakeland.

Class Reps: Adair County, Archbishop Alter, Bellbrook, Milford, Norton, and Walled Lake Central.