They've achieved national recognition. Now, the Jackson Jaguars marching band has a national championship to go with it.

Jackson Memorial High School Jaguars Display National Trophy (Darlene Barney)

The 190-strong complement from Jackson Memorial High School fended off competition from Connecticut to Tennessee and near-freezing temperatures to capture the US Band Group 6A national title Saturday night in East Rutherford

The Jaguars also took top honors for music and percussion.

"Every year we end up with our high scores in the range of the other top notch bands in the US Bands circuit," said Band Director Bud McCormick in a prepared release.  "Even though we are always in the running, this is the first time in twenty years we have won the title."

For any marching band, a trip to MetLife Stadium is glittery enough. But the reading of the rankings among the six top finishers only heightens the excitement, said mellophone co-section leader Sam Rogalsky.

"As we got closer and closer to the top awards I started to get excited," he enthused later. "I thought maybe this will be our year," he said.

Alto sax ace Eric Vigliaro is one of the seniors who poured everthing into what might be his musical faewell. “We worked so hard for this one performance.  It was our last opportunity to show what we had and we left it on the field,” he said.

“It was great to win the championship and I am really proud that we won Best Percussion,” said Drum Co-Captain Allison Leonard.

Woodwind Advisor Tim Apgar said that the rise to the top seemed like the band's destiny. "When I started working with the band four years ago I knew they had the potential to be champions," he said.

Assistant Band Director Jason Diaz reflected that the championship is a satisfying result of hard work and dedication. "Thank you to everyone involved in Jackson Memorial's band program," he said, "the students, staff, and especially the parents."

The Jaguars' whirlwind schedule continues with a holiday concert December 18, winter performances by the Woodwind Choir and also the Jazz Ensemble, which begins competing in February. The full band marches in next year's Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York City and the Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington, DC.