FAWN GROVE, Pa. - It's early in the high school basketball season, but something is definitely different at Kennard-Dale.
The team motto this year is "Won't Back Down." And they're not backing down from anybody.
After seven consecutive losing seasons, the Rams are off to a perfect 5-0 start.
One of the secrets to their success is team chemistry, an elusive concept the Harvard Business Review once described as the "Holy Grail of performance analytics."
Chemistry usually develops over time. Consistency often accelerates the process. The Rams have an abundance of both.
Most of the time, in youth sports, kids have different coaches at different levels. But at Kennard-Dale, the coach and the players have come up through the ranks together.
Jake Roupe started coaching the current seniors when they were in 7th grade. And they've moved up together as a group from middle school to junior varsity and now to varsity.
"It's been really cool and really fun to have those same guys come up with me," said Roupe. "They've been by my side for the past six years, they're my best friends."
Averaging 23 points per game, Stonehill College commit Adam Freese leads a core group of seniors called The Quad, comprised of Joey Thomas, Freese, Craig Potts and Donnell Williams.
Some of these guys have been playing together since 3rd or 4th grade, so they know each other's game inside and out.
"Playing with them for so long, I kinda know where they're gonna be and what they're gonna do," said Freese. "It really shows and helps us."
Coach Roupe agrees. "They don't care who scores the points. They're very unselfish, and they're best friends. When they see each other do well, they get excited."
Ruope started seeing the potential of this group all the way back in elementary school.
"When they were younger, I watched them on the court, playing as little guys, and I'm like, man, those guys are really good. They'll be really fun to watch when they're in high school. I can't wait to come back and watch them. And here I am now coaching them. It's like a dream come true."