Optimism - every team in every sport has it before the start of the season.
That optimism might die quickly once the season starts or after a few weeks have passed. Only a few teams can win a championship, whether it's a conference, league, district, regional or state title.
Sometimes, however, that optimism holds true, leading to a deep run in the playoffs. With Liberty's season starting Friday, there seems to be something special about the Leopards this season.
The Leopards have a confidence - the kind teams before having a special season. For some players, it comes from last year's success, when Liberty recorded nine wins after a season in which it went winless.
For others, a chip on the shoulder drives them. With first-year coach Kevin Cylar taking over the program less than two months before the start of the season, people outside of the program are posing questions about the team.
"We have a lot of doubters to disprove since we have a new coach," starting quarterback Asim Pleas said. "A lot of people think that we can't have a repeat or have a better year than we had last year, but nobody in our locker room thinks that. We all think that we can have a better year than last year, even under the circumstances of getting a new coach late."
Better than last year means advancing past the second round of the playoffs, and senior guard Sidney Hill feels it means heading to the state final four.
"We're more of a family now than we were last year," Hill said. "That's the only option I have in my mind - going to state my senior year."
Goals like that might seem farfetched, considering the Leopards lost their main offensive threat from the previous season, but Pleas points to the new coach as a major reason for the team being in such high spirits.
Although just an assistant, Cylar gained a lot of playoff experience with Ursuline, being a member of the coaching staff when the Fighting Irish won three-straight state titles from 2007-2009.
Add that experience to the team's run into the playoffs last season, and the players believe they can go even farther.
"Everybody knows what it takes to make it to the second round of the playoffs - we just need that one push," Pleas said. "I think that push is coach Kev (Cylar)."
Cylar didn't go as far as his players in saying that they're heading for the state final four or championship, but he also said he had no problem with what Pleas and Hill said - as long as they back it up with their effort on and off the field.
"They're hard workers," Cylar said. "They're very committed. I don't think those two guys have missed any days whatsoever. Once you see the kids' commitment, you have no choice but to believe in what they're saying.
"I tell them I don't have a problem with talking as long as the work ethic backs it up."
Whether this optimism ultimately proves to be false or the real deal remains to be seen, but until that time, the aura surrounding Liberty points to this being a special year.