JERUSALEM KINGS receiver Ari Wajsport 370.
(photo credit: sportpic)
The semifinalists are now set in the Kraft Family IFL, and the final four teams
standing are not necessarily those predicted.
A pair of quasi-competitive
quarterfinals kicked off the playoffs this past weekend, with the Clal Tel Aviv
Pioneers and Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs advancing with emphatic statements that
should put their next opponents on top-level alert.
On Friday at TA
University, the Pioneers overcame both a torrential downpour and a dark-horse
foe in the ISD Jerusalem Kings, riding a pair of 100-yard rushers for the second
week in a row en route to a 34-6 triumph to earn a semifinal date at Kraft
Stadium on Thursday night against the 10-0 Big Blue Jerusalem Lions.
real surprise of the weekend (and the season) came on Saturday night in the
capital, when the defending-champion Talpion Judean Rebels ran into a buzzsaw of
an Underdogs squad, whose dominating offensive display left the Orangemen in the
dust of what ended as a record-setting 91-47 shootout.
Chris Clark led
the way for the yellow-and-black, making five trips to the endzone to neutralize
a seven-touchdown performance from Rebels’ QB Joe Martisius.
had a pair of scores – on a kick return and a pick-six – for Haifa, which also
churned out 322 rushing yards, led by 112 from Ran Shani and 92 from
Whenever a team scores on 12 of its 13 possessions – as the
Underdogs did – it’s going to be difficult for its opponent to maintain a
fighting chance, and ultimately the Judean defense simply could not remain
effective enough to give their offense the opportunity to catch up.
the scoreline reading 38- 21 in favor of the vistors at the break, Katzir opened
the second half with a 59-yard kickoff return for another six points, and the
rout was on.
The Underdogs got another score from Shani on a 40-yard
burst untouched up the gut and took a 54-27 advantage into the final frame, from
which they coasted to the win.
For the Underdogs, a quick one-week
turnaround is all they have before a semifinal trip to Neve Golan on Saturday to
face the Bourbon Street Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres, with the winner earning a spot in
Israel Bowl IV.
Friday’s Pioneers-Kings clash began under a steady rain
that quickly developed into a fullon deluge.
The Kings could do nothing
to stop Kobi Nimrod, who carried the ball five straight times to open the game
and give the hosts a red-zone opportunity.
However, the weather, as
always acted as somewhat of an equalizer, with the slippery conditions
contributing to a fumbled snap that Jerusalem recovered to stem the tide, for
the time being at least.
Ilan Bielma took over from there, rushing a
dozen times for 113 yards and two touchdowns before the opening frame was over
to stake the Pioneers to a 12-0 advantage.
Marshall Mullinax ensured the
Kings would avoid the shutout with a one-yard scoring plunge to begin the fourth
quarter, but that was as close as Jerusalem would get.
package of Nimrod (101 yards) and Bielma (156 yards) were more than enough for
the Kings to handle, but Clal will have to expand their passing attack in the
semis if it hopes to hand Big Blue its first loss of the
Meanwhile, the Underdogs will rightfully revel in their
ultra-satisfying conquest of the Rebels. However, they know more than anyone from
two mid-season defeats that the Sabres will present a much stauncher challenge
and at least an equal effort will be needed to pull off a second consecutive
The Final Four are here. Lions- Pioneers (Thursday 8 p.m. @
Kraft), Sabres-Underdogs (Saturday 8:30 p.m. @ Neve Golan). If there is one
thing the playoffs have taught us thus far, predict at your own peril.