DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) — As we gear up for the high school football season, News 19 will be previewing more than 40 of our Tennessee Valley programs in On the Road with Olivia and Claudia.

Episode ten features the Austin Black Bears and Decatur Red Raiders.

The Black Bears are coming off a 4-6 2021 season where they missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

Last season, the Black Bears were a young group that didn’t have much game-time experience under the Friday night lights; this year, head coach Jeremy Perkins has more of a veteran group who’s gone through a lot over the years which makes him feel confident about where his guys’ heads are at heading into 2022.

“These guys have now experienced every up and down and the situation in a football season that they could experience,” Perkins said. “They’ve experienced winning, they experienced losing, they’ve experienced close games and blowouts. They’ve experienced all of those things within the game and now they’re prepared to actually excel in the game.”

Perkins says the experience his guys have now is irreplaceable, so now with an older group of returners what are some other key notes that Perkins has about his guys this year?

“Maturity, they’re focused on the task at hand, they’re focused on getting better and good senior leadership out of this group,” Perkins said.

About seven miles down the road, we’ll find the second half of the River City Rivalry: the Decatur Red Raiders.

Head coach Jere Adcock says he feels excitement in the locker room but even more than excitement he sees a sense of determination on his team.

“They realize what’s happened the last three years is not characteristic of our program it’s not who we are,” Adcock said. “They’ve put in the work they’ve put in the commitment we need.”

Acock says his team, especially the big senior class, is looking forward to trying to get back to what Decatur football is accustomed to.

“These guys have fought through some hard years, some lean years for us, they’ve gone through some disappointing losses,” Adcock said. “Last year especially, I think it was 20 something points separated us from being 8-2 and 4-6 . There’s been a lot of disappointment.”

The Black Bears and Red Raiders both open the season on the road for week zero before the River City Rivalry is renewed in week one.