FRANKFORT -- The phenomenon began slowly at first, with an extra congratulations in the hall or a kind word from a teacher during class.
As Frankfort's boys soccer team kept winning, its following kept building. Vuvuzela-blaring fans soon filled the bleachers of the Hot Dogs' soccer complex on South Maish Road, and more and more are making the team's road trips as well.
"It makes us want to put on a show for everybody," sophomore forward Evan Giebel said. "Score goals, make the place go wild."
The Hot Dogs have yet to disappoint their home crowd. Frankfort is 12-1 and can wrap up an undefeated Sagamore Conference championship this week if it defeats Danville and Tri-West.
It's a dramatic turnaround for a team that finished 5-13 last season and didn't win a conference match.
"For one, everyone's taking it more serious," senior defender Gabriel Mora said. "And the passing. We know the ball's faster than us, so if we pass it, we're going to advance quicker.
"This discipline's way better, too. Everyone's more responsible, and when we make a mistake, we don't try to put anybody down. We encourage them up and the next time the learn from it and they keep on doing it better."
Russ Noss, a Tennessee native, coached high school soccer for the first time while serving as a pastor in Roswell, N.M. Now the pastor at Faith Family Ministries, he took over a Hot Dogs program that had just graduated a large senior class three years ago.
His first Frankfort team won five games, but had to vacate those victories when it was later discovered they'd used an ineligible player. The young team managed five more victories last season, but the Hot Dogs blame more than their inexperience.
"We have more heart this year than last year," Giebel said. "Kids are actually understanding now that it's for real; it's not a game anymore. Last year, it was like everybody was just joking around. This year, everybody's doing their jobs."
Nine of 11 starters return from last year's team, though one shifted from one crucial position to another.
Adrian Cruz spent his freshman and sophomore seasons as the Hot Dogs' starting goalkeeper. But his foot skills, and the development of former junior varsity keeper Jose Cervantes, allowed Noss to pair Cruz with Jessie Rodriguez at center midfield.
Displaying an ability to both score and distribute, Cruz has totaled 11 goals and eight assists this season. Giebel (13 goals, eight assists) and Alfred Mora (12 goals, four assists) are also enjoying big seasons.
The Hot Dogs have outscored opponents 59-8 this season, including 23-2 in Sagamore Conference games. The defenders and Cervantes have combined to shut out eight opponents.
"We play a very quick-attack soccer," Noss said. "We try to get them into space and let them do their thing. They're very good with their feet, very good with their bodies. Their speed is what kills defenses."
The promise Noss saw in his team over the summer began to come true with a season-opening 3-2 victory at Logansport. By the end of August, Frankfort had surpassed last season's victory total. A 1-0 victory at Crawfordsville on Sept. 8 boosted the record to 9-0.
Harrison spoiled the undefeated run with a 2-0 victory on Sept. 10. It was an eye-opening loss for the Hot Dogs, who hope they are better-prepared if a rematch occurs in the new Class 2A sectional they share with the Raiders.
Frankfort defeated another large sectional opponent, Lafayette Jeff, 1-0 on Saturday.
"When we lost, our heads were down for the first 10 minutes the game was over," Giebel said. "After that we said we were going to meet them again at sectionals. Everybody got hungry again."