(photo credit: Uriel Sturm)
It was not a good weekend for home teams in the Kraft Family IFL as a pair of visitors stole the show and walked out of town with the first 2-0 records of the young Israeli tackle football season.
On Friday in the South, the Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres travelled to Beersheva and lay a 56-2 beating on the host Black Swarm, a margin of victory never before seen in these parts.
Tamir Elterman led the attack with three first-half touchdowns, and Yoni Rubin closed things out by throwing for two fourth-quarter scores as the Sabres were totally dominant throughout en-route to a record-breaking 54-point conquest, once again demonstrating their full-scale improvement from a year ago as they remained in first place atop the standings.
The next night in Modi'in, in what was a grudge-match in the purest sense of the term, the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions became the second team of the weekend maintain a perfect record with a 20-14 victory over the host Dancing Camel Modi'in Pioneers in a tightly-fought rematch of last year's championship game, a dramatic double-overtime win for Modi'in.
The burgeoning chemistry between Itai Asheknazi - who had a veritable troop of vocal supporters in attendance - and Idan Yaron was once again on full display, as the QB-receiver pair hooked up for three touchdowns to account for all of Jerusalem's scoring.
Meanwhile, while the Pioneers' running game managed to gain 164 yards on the ground, quarterbacks Tal Brown and Uri Schiff were unable to hit a single teammate through the air, finishing an embarrassing combined 0-10 with an interception.
While the victory kept Big Blue unbeaten on the season, they currently sit in second-place, behind the Sabres on point differential. The loss dropped Dancing Camel to 1-2, and saw the defending-champs dip below .500 for the first time in over a year with a second straight defeat after 10 consecutive victories (regular season and playoffs).
The balance of power has clearly shifted in the IFL, with the Sabres and Papagaio Jerusalem Kings (1-1) making huge strides to become early contenders, not to mention the expansion Judean Rebels (1-1), who bring their own brand of always dangerous win-at-all-costs football to the mix.
However, after watching Saturday's close, but almost surgically efficient Big Blue conquest on the road over a skilled and hungry Pioneers squad, any discussion of title favorites - even at this premature juncture - that does not include the Lions can only be described as foolish.
Beersheva, on the other hand, has now lost three in a row by a combined 104 points to open its inaugural campaign. However, the Black Swarm were courageous in Friday's loss, absorbing a couple more injuries and playing with their hearts on their sleeves right down until the closing whistle. Just like that old Timex slogan - "it takes a licking and keeps on ticking - Beersheva will surely be back better than ever, having grown stronger from their recent character-building setbacks. It has a chance to quickly put the defeat in the rearview mirror with another home game this week, this time against the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs (1-1), who will make the cross-country trek.
The Sabres, meanwhile, are also back in action almost immediately when they host the Rebels in Holon this Saturday night. Expect fireworks from the pair of explosive teams in what should be a real gridiron battle between two clubs with no love lost for each other. Kickoff on Friday for Underdogs-Swarm is schedule for 1 p.m, while Saturday night's festivities will get under way at 8:45 p.m.