1. Strom Thurmond (50)
The Rebels (5-1) continued to run roughshod over their opponents with a 56-10 victory over Brookland-Cayce, their first Region 5-AAA contest since moving back to Class AAA. Strom Thurmond will face its two greatest challenges to region supremacy in the next two weeks, starting on Friday when it plays host to Airport before going to Swansea on Oct. 12. As good as both of those squads are, there's no reason to believe the Rebels will do anything other than continue winning on their way to the playoffs.
Up next: vs. Airport
2. Williston-Elko (43)
The Blue Devils (5-2) won their fourth game in a row and further cemented their status as the class of Region 4-A with last week's 48-7 trouncing of Fox Creek. The only negative - if you can even call it that - was a garbage-time touchdown marked the first points Williston-Elko surrendered to Fox Creek in five meetings. The competition gets tougher for the Blue Devils in their final three regular-season games, but with a healthy Jarius Jenkins carrying the ball and a revitalized defense attacking opponents they should be up for the challenge.
Up next: vs. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler
3. Silver Bluff (41)
The Bulldogs (5-1) had by far the most impressive showing of any area team last Friday. They came off their first loss, a lopsided defeat at the hands of Strom Thurmond, and had to face Bamberg-Ehrhardt - its top rival for the Region 5-AA title. Playing at home, SIlver Bluff showed no signs of hangover with a great start before rallying in the closing seconds to win on Pedro Zambrano's 40-yard field goal just before the final buzzer. It's a credit to Al Lown, his coaching staff and the players that they were able to refocus to quickly and pass a huge gut check.
Up next: at Wade Hampton
4. North Augusta (35)
The Yellow Jackets (4-2) had the week off which should help some of their lingering injures heal. Their last game was one of their best performances of the season, a thrashing of Grovetown, and has them headed to their Region 5-AAAA schedule with momentum. They start their region campaign by renewing the rivalry with Lexington, and although many of the key players who participated in last year's 59-56 shootout, this Friday's game figures to be fiercely competitive.
Up next: at Lexington
5. Wagener-Salley (31)
The War Eagles (5-2) rebounded from back-to-back losses with a statement win over North. The win clearly places Wagener-Salley in the upper echelon of Region 4-A and should give it hope that a strong finish will result in a trip to the postseason and possibly a home playoff game. But the best thing about the win for the War Eagles was how they prevailed, showing the offensive explosiveness that allowed them to open the season with four consecutive wins.
Up next: Bye
6. Ridge Spring-Monetta (25)
The Trojans (3-3) had the week off which should go a long way for a team that has been ravaged by injuries this season. They'll need to be ready for a physical challenge as they return to action on Thursday, with a trip to Blackville-Hilda waiting. A win over the traditional power would be a huge shot in the arm for the program that's making strides in its first year under Heath Corley.
Up next: at Blackville-Hilda (Thursday)
7. Midland Valley (20)
The Mustangs (2-4) have become the feel-good story of the season. They have improved every week throughout the season and rewarded the homecoming crowd last Friday with their second consecutive win, a victory that was fueled by the outstanding play of youngsters Daniel Carr (freshman quarterback) and Dre Carr (sophomore tailback). The future looks bright but the Midland Valley faithful have to be prepared for a huge challenge this week from visiting Swansea, one of the best teams in the state.
Up next: vs. Swansea
8. Aiken (14)
The Hornets (2-4) suffered their second consecutive setback last week and lost all of the momentum they had previously gained with back-to-back victories. They need to start back from square one this Friday as they play host to White Knoll in the Region 5-AAAA opener for both teams. Aiken is trying to adjust to maximize its players' talents but the inability to consistently pass the ball and a defense with injuries and other issues are problems that might not go away.
Up next: vs. White Knoll
9. Fox Creek (11)
The Predators (1-5) have struggled with injury and inexperience all season, which has resulted in five losses and will make it hard for them to return to the playoffs. But Fox Creek does have a solid core of players that have shown instances of good play, trying to harness that into something consistent will be the challenge for head coach Russ Schneider and his assistants.
Up next: vs. North
10. South Aiken (5)
The Thoroughbreds (0-6) had a week off before commencing with their Region 5-AAAA schedule. The good news is that highly-touted quarterback Bo Baldwin is expected to return from an injury, along with several other key T-Breds. The bad news is South Aiken, which has played one of the most challenging schedules of any team in the state so far this season, will open region play against one of the top contenders for the title in Dutch Fork. It won't be easy but the T-Breds will try to snap their 14-game losing skid.
Up next: vs. Dutch Fork
What do the rankings mean?
The Aiken Standard power rankings is a system designed by our sports staff to rank the strength of the 10 area high school football teams. Five voters - Noah Feit (sports editor), Jeremy Timmerman (sports writer), Scott Rodgers (sports writer), Ed Girardeau (ASTV play-by-play voice) and Ken Brace (ASTV analyst) - ranked each team 1-10, based on the teams' strength within their class. Ranking Wagener-Salley ahead of Aiken, for example, isn't a prediction that the War Eagles would win the head-to-head battle between those two clubs, but instead an indication of the voters' belief that Wagener-Salley is a bigger force within Class A than Aiken is within Class AAAA. A team received 10 points for a first-place vote, nine for a second-place vote, eight for a third place vote, etc. The votes were then tallied, and the teams were put in order based on their point totals. A new poll will be released every Monday throughout the season.