(WHNT) – We’re headed back out to the Shoals for Episode 20 of On the Road with Olivia and Claudia, checking in with Muscle Shoals and Deshler.

The Trojans are coming off of another very successful season, going 11-2 and finishing as Region 7 runners-up, but they fell just short of making it to the state title game, falling to Mountain Brook in the semifinals. Head coach Scott Basden said they gave it their all and he’s still proud of the season his team had.

“Sometimes you’re going to get beat by a team that is better than you. It’s just the way it is. Don’t not mentally prepare, and physically prepare, to win those games that you should win. I’ve been there with teams and played for state championships with a bunch that I really didn’t think was that good. I’ve won a state championship with sophomores before, and I’ve been beat in the semifinals with several great teams and it just didn’t go our way, football’s a funny game. You’ve got to have a lot of luck and you’ve got to stay healthy. They come in every day and they work their rear ends off,” Basden said.

Basden enters his 16th season at the helm of the Trojans program and he’s seen a lot of success over the years. And while the players want to continue the winning culture at Muscle Shoals, Basden also wants them to enjoy every day they’re out there.

“They want to leave their own mark. They love each other and they care for each other. They’re going to work hard but we’re going to laugh, we’re going to have fun and we’re going to get after it. They understand the expectation and the standard that we want to play to and how the program’s run. We do the same stuff over and over but we’re going to have fun doing it. They may win one or they may win 15 I don’t know, but we’re going to have fun with whatever we’re doing, but it’s not going to be fun if we only win one and I think they know that,” Basden added.

Just 10 minutes down the road are the Deshler Tigers. Patrick Malone led his alma mater to quite the turnaround in his first year as head coach, going from 3-7 to an undefeated regular season and region champs, and a state quarterfinals appearance.

The Tigers did graduate 17 seniors from that team, but they laid the foundation and now this year’s squad is trying to build from that.

“They were a great group, no doubt about it and I think that they laid the blueprint for how things are supposed to be done. From everything from how you conduct yourself in the classroom, community to on the field and that’s what we believe in at Deshler. We believe in establishing something that is sustainable,” Malone said.

Malone said you’re going to see a lot of new, younger faces when you look at the field this fall but he’s excited to see what they’ve learned from last year and how they grow as this season goes on.

“We’ve got some underclassmen that have grown and developed up front that’s going to allow us to do some things differently and we’re excited to see how that plays out. They know that they don’t have to be anybody other than who they are but they’ve got to do what’s demanded of them and that’s a complete buy-in and play to our standards and if they do that, then we should have an equally memorable group. The seniors are going to have to lead the way, the underclassmen are going to have to go along with it. We’re excited about the growth of this team and that’s what it’s going to be, it’s going to be a continual progression and we want to be standing at the end,” Malone added.

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Deshler will host Madison Academy on Friday while Muscle Shoals will host Bob Jones to kick off the 2023 season.