Friday Night Drive Week 14 Power Rankings: Loyola earns top billing in final rankings

Mt. Carmel, Lincoln-Way East, Cary-Grove and Nazareth round out Top 5

Loyola’s Nicholas Arogundade celebrates a Brendan Loftus touchdown against Lincoln-Way East in the Class 8A championship on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023 at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

Loyola locked up the top spot in the final Friday Night Drive Rankings by defeating Lincoln-Way East in Saturday night’s Class 8A state championship game.

Usually the situation requires a bit more intense debate, but Loyola was one of just four teams to finish the season without a loss and none of the other undefeated teams competed in any of the larger classifications.

Loyola also knocked off the only other team that had a chance to finish undefeated when it downed Lincoln-Way East. The only other team that you could make a strong case for the top spot, Mount Carmel, had its lone loss given to it by Loyola in Week 9 of the regular season.

No disrespect to the teams that played both Loyola and Mount Carmel in their respective state championship games but it was hard not to wish for a rematch between the two to culminate what to that point had been a fairly interesting final day at the state championships.

Looking all the way back to the preseason, the poll was fairly representative of how the season played out. Four of the top five teams in the preseason poll finished in the top five of the postseason poll. Lincoln-Way East was No. 2 in the preseason, Mount Carmel was No. 3, Loyola was No. 4 and Nazareth was No. 5. East St. Louis, who finished sixth in the final poll, was the preseason No. 1.

Here are the final Friday Night Drive Rankings: