1. Strom Thurmond (50)

The Rebels (6-1) faced their first test since moving back to Region 5-AAA and passed with flying colors, overcoming a slow start for a 41-6 win over Airport, one of the staples of the conference in recent years. Now all eyes will be on Strom Thurmond as it goes to Swansea for a showdown with the undefeated Tigers in a matchup of two of the best teams in the state, with the winner in control of first place in the region.

Up next: at Swansea

2. Williston-Elko (42)

The Blue Devils (6-2) welcomed a challenge for Region 4-A supremacy from Hunter-Kinard-Tyler and soundly dispatched the Trojans, 50-0. Barring an unforeseen mishap, Williston-Elko is on its way to another region title, its fourth in a row, and home-field advantage to start the playoffs, which is likely the next time it will be challenged.

Up next: at Ridge Spring-Monetta

3. Silver Bluff (41)

The Bulldogs (6-1) got through a two-week stretch where they faced Strom Thurmond and Bamberg-Ehrhardt intact and got to enjoy a sound win over Wade Hampton last Friday. Silver Bluff is in control of Region 5-AA and should gather steam as it heads to the playoffs. Defense and power running never go out of style and the Bulldogs are good at both.

Up next: at Edisto

4. North Augusta (37)

The Yellow Jackets (5-2) opened Region 5-AAAA play and sent a message that they remain a force to be reckoned with following a trip to Lexington that resulted in a 44-6 victory. North Augusta can dominate the game in all three phases and is multi-faceted on offense with a variety of playmakers that should continue to post staggering statistics as they make a run at a region crown.

Up next: vs. White Knoll

5. Wagener-Salley (30)

The War Eagles (5-2) had a week off and should be as close to tip-top as they’ve been since the season opener. They’ll play host to Fox Creek in one of the more challenging games the War Eagles will have for the rest of the season and will need Malcolm Stroman to make a few plays in the passing game to compliment the high-powered run game.

Up next: vs. Fox Creek

6. Ridge Spring-Monetta (23)

The Trojans (3-4) lost a tough contest to Blackville-Hilda that puts them in a precarious position for the playoffs. Ridge Spring-Monetta should still be able to secure a postseason berth, but it will likely be as a low seed. It faces its greatest challenge this week when it plays host to Williston-Elko and head coach Heath Corley can match wits with his mentor Dwayne Garrick after serving on the Blue devils’ coaching staff the past few years.

Up next: vs. Williston-Elko

7. Midland Valley (20)

The Mustangs (2-5) came crashing back to Earth last Friday in a shutout loss against Swansea, but lots of teams have struggled against the Tigers. The focus for Midland Valley now is to rebound from the loss and try to reclaim the momentum it had built with back-to-back victories. A win at Brookland-Cayce this week is a realistic possibility and would put it in terrific position to capture one of Region 5-AAA’s playoff berths.

Up next: at Brookland-Cayce

8. Aiken (15)

The Hornets (2-5) lost a heartbreaker to White Knoll in overtime for their third consecutive defeat – all three at Hagood Stadium. Normally a road trip might be a good elixir but traveling to play Dutch Fork, maybe the best team in Region 5-AAAA, isn’t a recipe for success. Another thing that isn’t helping are the attempts to move players around from one position to another to find a winning formula. Consistency will go a long way at this point of the season.

Up next: at Dutch Fork

9. Fox Creek (11)

The Predators (2-5) had their best win of the season last Friday in a 48-12 thrashing of North. They’ve been hampered by injuries all season but might have found a stable core that can lead them to success down the stretch and possible trip to the postseason.

Up next: at Wagener-Salley

10. South Aiken (5)

The Thoroughbreds (0-7) were excited to get a fresh start with Region 5-AAAA play as well as the return of so many injured players. Unfortunately for South Aiken, its schedule continuedwwww to work against it, with a contest against Dutch Fork in the region opener. A 56-3 defeat has to be a tough pill to swallow for a team that hasn’t won since 2011, mired in a 16-game losing skid. Maybe a week of practice with all of the returning players will help the T-Breds going forward.

Up next: vs. Lexington

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.