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Photo by: Sagi Dayan
Hammers blank Rebels, Pios cruise in playoff hunt
By JERUSALEM POST SPORTS STAFF
01/30/2013
The Travel Leader Beersheba Black Swarm improved to 3-4 on the season by powering past the Rehovot Silverbacks 56-18.
 
It was another eventful week in the Kraft Family IFL, with four games on the slate and a number of standings-shifting results, all highlighted by one very special guest.

On Saturday night down South, the Travel Leader Beersheba Black Swarm improved to 3-4 on the season by powering past the Rehovot Silverbacks 56-18, despite a spirited effort from the expansion visitors. A day earlier, the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers overcame an early deficit with 10 unanswered touchdowns in trampling the Petah Tikva Troopers 68-6 while the ISD Jerusalem Kings went North on Tuesday to dispatch the Northern Stars by a similar 66-8 scoreline.

The clear-cut bonanza of Week 11, however, was Thursday night’s showdown in Ramat Hasharon between the host Hammers and the Talpion Judean Rebels, which not only featured a captivating clash of IFL titans but also was honored by the presence of US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro and members of his office as part of a packed house.

“I am thrilled to be here enjoying a real tackle football game,” noted Shapiro from the Hammers’ sideline after a crunching hit took place not five feet away. “While I have never played the sport myself – I was more into basketball – I have seen over decades how sports, and football in particular, teaches you a lot about life and all the skills necessary to succeed as an individual and on a team.

“Sport, throughout the world, is one of the biggest cultural unifiers, it eliminates all the barriers and brings so many different people together. I know sports can do that here to and I look forward to see how you continue to develop football in Israel.”

The esteemed diplomat was certainly treated to a show, with Hasharon maintaining its perfect record and jumping into a tie for first place with the Bourbon Street TA/Jaffa Sabres at 7-0 with a thrilling 18-0 conquest of the Rebels.

While the Hammers continue to look like dragon- slayers week after week, the Rebels are still struggling to maintain consistency and this latest loss dropped them back to .500 at 4-4 on the season and in 5th place in the standings with just two games remaining on their schedule.

The Kings, meanwhile, are now sitting in 6th place – and holding the final playoff spot – at 3-3 overall after their lopsided defeat of the Northern Stars in Tuesday’s snow make-up affair way up in Kibbutz Saar.

Petah Tikva, coming off its first-ever victory, was completely over-matched against the Pioneers on Friday, but that didn’t prevent them from coming into the game brimming with both pride and confidence. The momentum carried them into the first quarter, when the Troopers forced a Tel Aviv turnover-on-downs to start things off and then responded with the opening score on a pretty 22-yard strike from Noam Shefer to Sahar Yair.

It was all Pioneers from there, however. Ben Hadar turned on his turbo-power and scampered for 164 yards and 5 touchdowns, while Ron Moscona tossed scores to Sagan Zavelo and Ben Gross as the game turned into a onesided rout by the half-time.

On Saturday in Beersheba, the Silverbacks came in smelling the opportunity for a shock upset, but their hopes were dashed from the outset with the reappearance of running back Zac Labby in Black Swarm attire.

Indeed, Labby gashed through the Rehovot defense all night long, finishing with 299 total yards and six of his teams eight touchdowns as the Swarm improved to 3-4 on the year and now sit just behind the Kings in 7th place, just ahead of Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs (3-5), who have played one more game.

This week the IFL has a light two-game schedule on tap, with the Kings and Big Blue Jerusalem Lions (4-2) squaring off in Thursday’s night’s Jerusalem derby at Kraft Stadium and the Troopers hosting the Northern Stars (1-5) on Saturday night in Petah Tikva.

For full Kraft Family IFL schedule and stats, as well as for more information on pigskin in the Holy Land, please visit www.israel-football.co.il
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