Foothills Football Elite Eight power rankings
The last of the leaves are changing and dropping off the trees. The temperatures are dropping into the wear-extra layers-and-two-pairs-of-socks range. It’s starting to really feel like the home stretch for football season.There are just two weeks left in the regular season for Northwest and Mountain Valley teams. Then, the playoff drive begins for many in the two area conferences.
Tonight brings another important round of conference games, several with title and playoff seeding implications. We’ve still got three undefeated teams, and as you would expect those three top our Elite Eight list this week. Mount Airy holds steady at No. 4 but there is some movement in the places below the Granite Bears, including a welcome back to North Stokes.
Without further ado, here are the teams we think have Elite Eight resumes from our area:
1. Starmount Rams (8-0, 6-0 MVAC)
Last Friday: Beat North Wilkes 55-18
This Friday: Visiting Alleghany
The Rams have been steadily taking care of business this season, building their conference winning streak to 31 games with last week’s victory in Hays. It’s likely that streak will be at 32 when Wilkes Central visits next week, though Alleghany won’t go down without a fight.
2. West Stokes Wildcats (9-0, 5-0 Northwest)
Last Friday: Beat South Stokes 34-14
This Friday: Hosting Bishop McGuinness
The Wildcats won the county championship with last week’s victory. Now, they can lock up their first ever conference championship in football by winning Friday and next week against North Surry. It’s probably not lost on the Wildcats that Bishop McGuinness knocked them off late in the year last fall.
3. Wilkes Central Eagles (8-0, 6-0 MVAC)
Last Friday: Beat Ashe County 29-14
This Friday: Hosting Elkin
About this time two years ago, Elkin visited Moravian Falls and put a hurting on the homestanding Eagles, 41-8. The two programs have been heading in opposite directions since. Wilkes Central has lost just twice in conference since that night in 2009, both times against eventual league champion Starmount. The Eagles survived a trap game at Ashe last week and just need to take care of business tonight to stay perfect heading into the monumental regular season finale.
4. Mount Airy Granite Bears (7-2, 4-1 Northwest)
Last Friday: Beat Bishop McGuinness 35-7
This Friday: Visiting South Stokes
The Granite Bears have been a bit beat up by the injury bug in recent weeks, losing all-state defensive back Jokton Moore for the season after the North Surry game. But Mount Airy keeps battling and keeps winning. A depleted Bears squad will face another challenge this week against an improved South Stokes outfit.
5. West Wilkes Blackhawks (5-3, 4-2 MVAC)
Last Friday: Open
This Friday: Visiting North Wilkes
There has been message board discussion this week from West Wilkes fans about wanting another shot at Wilkes Central, a team that beat them soundly on a stormy Friday night in early September. While there is no chance of a rematch this season, there is no mistaking that the Blackhawks continue to get better each week. They’ve won four of the last five and have a chance to be the solid No. 3 in the conference by season’s end (tops among the 1As).
6. Surry Central Golden Eagles (5-3, 3-2 Northwest)
Last Friday: Beat North Surry 42-26
This Friday: Visiting North Stokes
The Golden Eagles put the brakes on North Surry’s hurry-up attack last week and have moved themselves into position to challenge for the No. 2 position behind West Stokes among the 2A schools in the conference. Yes, Wes Brown is a bull running the football, but the Eagles go much deeper than Brown on both sides of the ball.
7. North Surry Greyhounds (6-2, 3-2 Northwest)
Last Friday: Lost to Surry Central 42-26
This Friday: Hosting East Surry
The Greyhounds have tended to be their own worst enemy at times the past few weeks. Costly penalties and turnovers brought their hot start to the season down to a simmer. But there is still a lot to play for, including solid seeding for the upcoming state playoffs. This will be the third straight week of county rivalry games for the Hounds, who are 0-2 against their Surry conference rivals so far.
8. North Stokes Vikings (4-5, 1-4 Northwest)
Last Friday: Beat East Surry 34-21
This Friday: Hosting Surry Central
Number eight in our Elite list has been a revolving door this season. North Stokes jumps back into our rankings after snapping a five-game losing skid and beating East Surry in Pilot Mountain. East Surry was our No. 8 team last week. North Stokes could hold on to this spot – or move up a rung or two – by winning a home contest against Surry Central tonight.
Knocking on the door: Forbush Falcons … South Stokes Sauras … Ashe County Huskies … East Wilkes Cardinals