The Rio Americano High School football team will march to different drums at Saturday's season opener.
For the first time, players will be joined by a drum line, made up of KaToya Moore's best students in an after-school program she started last year.
Moore's students - elementary to high school - meet once a week and learn how to read music, move together and play all sorts of drums, such as the snare and bass.
"I wanted to design a program that would encourage feeling and experiencing music as a kid," said Moore, a former music teacher turned founder of Drummers With Education.
Drum lines have popped up at six schools in the past year in the Sacramento City Unified and San Juan Unified school districts. Drummers With Education contracts with the districts to provide the after-school program, and Moore said more schools are signing up this year.
Moore's drum lines play community events, rallies, private events and now Rio Americano High School football games. Football coach Max Miller said he expects 20,000 to fill the bleachers hours before the game's 1 p.m. start time on Saturday.
"They do a great job," Miller said about the drum line. "They're a great group of kids and our team's excited about it."
Moore, 35, started drumming in the sixth grade, continued at California State University, Sacramento, and never stopped. Now she's teaching groups of elementary, middle and high school students. Demand has grown, especially after her students took home "Best in Show" at the Arden Arcade Fourth of July parade.
Moore maintains that drum lines aren't just about making music. The line moves and plays as a cohesive unit, and like any marching band, showmanship is key. That makes drum lines prime for learning about integrity, determination, leadership and teamwork.
"It's character education they can use throughout life, not just in the drum line," she said.
Her teachings have resonated with her students, such as Datwaan Williams. The 18-year-old joined the drum line as a senior at Sacramento Charter High School last fall. He didn't have a background in music and he had never played the drums, but his passion for the drum line elevated him to team captain of the A-Line - the best of the best of Moore's students - and then a teaching job with Drummers With Education after he graduated.
Williams said he's most attracted to the team aspect of the line, evidenced by his preference for cadences over playing radio hits.
"Cadences show how strong and fierce the line is as a unit rather than as individuals," Williams said.
But the radio hits are fun, too. Moore's drum lines spin popular songs, such as "I'm Different" by 2 Chainz, into their own versions. It's a dive from what Moore was used to growing up.
"When I was a kid, there was a set standard, a certain look," she said. "Drum lines have gotten more trendy and connected to popular music."
With all the positive feedback - and students returning to the drum line after summer vacation - Moore is looking to expand into more schools, into programs such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and into more public events.
"I'm always looking to hit different communities, communities that are different from the ones my students are already part of," she said.
Call The Bee's Janelle Bitker, (916) 321-1027.