After taking a week off due to the military situation throughout the country, the Kraft Family IFL returned with a
vengeance over the weekend, with a four-game slate that provided plenty of
hard-hitting football action and some wet and wild highlights.
with a mouthwatering Thursday doubleheader in the capital, the Bourbon Street
Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres came to town to pay a visit to the Talpion Judean Rebels
and this time the defending champs turned out the lights on the Orangemen
without need for any late-game dramatics in a 36-20 decisive triumph.
Big Blue Jerusalem Lions followed that up with their first victory of the
season, outdueling Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs 40-24 as Ori Refaelowitz caught three
long TD passes and Binyamin Schultz notched a pair of second-half touchdowns to
seal the deal and help stave off the black-and-gold’s comeback
Friday in Petah Tikva featured the skies opening up just in time
for the burgeoning rivalry clash between the PT Troopers and the ISD Jerusalem
Kings, who ultimately rained on the hosts’ parade to the tune of a 46-20
shellacking behind impressive performances from the quarterbacking tandem of Eli
Skolnik and young Jordan Guin.
That contest paved the muddy path for
Saturday’s soaker in Herzliya, a makeup affair pitting the second-year Nahariya
Northern Stars traveling to take on the expansion Rechovot Silverbacks, who
almost pulled out the franchise’s first victory, but ended up settling for a
21-16 morale-lifting loss.
For Nahariya, which claimed just its
second-ever conquest to improve to 1-0 on the campaign, it was the perfect
opportunity to jump out on the right foot and Netanel Ben-Zaquen scored on the
opening drive to stake the visitors to a 7-0 lead after Yuval Fisher booted the
extra point through the “uprights.”
The Silverbacks would claw back,
pulling to within a point with the team’s first points on a short TD pass from
Michael Slabodkin to Tom Kaufman.
The wet weather gave both teams some
trouble, with there being a combined 12 fumbles on the night, most coming on
Just before the half, an Erez Baharav TD restored
Nahariya’s seven-point advantage, however two plays later, Rechovot’s Mike Zinn
zipped up the middle of the field 45 yards to the house for a score, with
Slabodkin’s two-point keeper convert handing the hosts a 14- 13 lead heading
into the break.
In a testament to the fact that a closely contested,
hard-fought football game will always be extremely entertaining – no matter how
sloppy – the Silverback and Northern Stars waged a second-half battle for the
ages, with no player wanting to make the crucial mistake that would doom their
Shay Rotbaum came up huge for the Northerners with nine
tackles and a crucial interception on a bat-down-tohimself piece of brilliance,
while David Abramovich and Matan Nissimov anchored a stout defensive showing
from Rechovot, which got the only points of the third quarter on a Safety to
take a slim 16-13 edge into the final frame.
Just when it seemed as if
the Silverbacks might have enough willpower and stamina to complete the upset,
the Stars’ offense sputtered to life. Etay Torres wasn’t about to let his team
take the long bus-ride home in silence and picked up a crucial first-down before
barreling into the endzone for an eightyard touchdown and self-conversion that
held up as the final points of the nights and fueled a well-earned first
Nahariya road win.
Indeed, it was good weekend for visiting teams in the
IFL, with the Sabres and Kings also notching away victories and the Underdogs
being only traveling loser of the round.
Tel Aviv/Jaffa was once again
buoyed by an entire gang of standout performers, with Brandon MacDougald leading
the way with three TDs and Cory Zinker chipping in with two more.
Fudge (11 tackles, INT), Adam Zinker (9 tackles, sack) and Ryan Michael (12
tackles) starred on the other side of the ball with Aaron Suissa (9 tackles)
infusing the special-teams unit with a needed spark after the Rebels had rallied
back from an early 18-0 deficit to make it 18-14 by halftime.
(13-27, 81 yards, 2 TDs and 19 carries for 71 yards and a score on the ground)
and Dani Eastman (161 total yards, 2 TDs) helped keep the Rebels in the game,
however the Judeans were clearly overmatched in this one and simply didn’t have
the firepower to keep up with the Big Red Machine, which improved to 2-0 with a
second comfortable conquest over a supposed contender.
fell to a second straight defeat as it was done in by the balanced Lions’
attack, which welcomed back Chaim Schiff, who threw for 121 yards and three TDs,
even while tossing two picks.
Refaelowitz and Schultz combined for five
of Big Blue’s six touchdowns, with Matan Lavi bursting through a seam for a
56-yard score and racking up 101 yards on just carries and veteran Shmuel
Halperin hauling in a number of pretty catches and a pair of twopoint
Even while keeping pace after a disastrous first quarter in
which they fell behind 14-0, the Underdogs couldn’t generate any consistent
With both Matt Kaufman or Moshe Genon taking turns under
center, Haifa turned the ball over four times, simply too many against a
Jerusalem squad which always seems ready to pounce on opponents’
The Kings, as well, came ready to take advantage of any
opportunities Petah Tikva would throw their way, and jumped out to a 24-0 lead
before the Troopers were able to grab back a score just before half-time. A pair
of thirdquarter touchdowns by Guinn essentially put the game out of reach at
40-6, although the Troopers used the fourth quarter to get their passing game in
gear, with Ran David firing a pair of scoring strikes to Sahar Yair and hitting
both Artiyum Somoskovi and Adi Sharabi on long completions.
All in all,
while only one of the four games played finished within a score, the losing
squads all learned valuable lessons early on that will benefit them once the
games really start to intensify in the battle for the six precious playoff spots
(out of 11 teams in the league.) This week sees three more games scheduled
across the country, with the Silverbacks visiting the Hasharon Hammers for a
rare Wednesday night kickoff, the Travel Leader Beersheva Blackswarm at the
Rebels on Thursday in Kraft Stadium and the Northern Stars hosting the Sabres on
Friday morning in Kibbutz Ein Ha’Mifratz.
For full Kraft Family IFL
standings, stats and schedule, as well as for more information on pigskin in the
Holy Land, please visit www.israel-football.co.il