IFL logo 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There was plenty of cross-country craziness over the weekend as the Kraft Family
Israel Football League wrapped up its regular season with a three-game slate
sandwiched around the various Purim celebrations and/or rocket ramifications
from North to South and everywhere in between.
Thursday night’s 54-0 romp
in Kfar Tavor, in which Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs dominated their neighboring
Northern Stars, set the table for Friday’s 66-12 pounding leveled by the Clal
Tel Aviv Pioneers on the Versafe Hatikva Hammers.
As much as the victors
of both those games were thrilled to gear up for the playoffs with stylish
conquests, Sunday night’s Beersheva Black Swarm-ISD Jerusalem Kings clash in the
capital clearly took the cake as the undisputed game-of-the-weekend and lived up
to its billing as a worthy finale to another action-packed IFL
With both the Kings and Swarm coming into the contest with
identical 3-6 records, and just one postseason slot remaining, the stakes were
set roof-high from the outset, each side priming itself up for a win-or-go-home
The game had flip-flopped locations twice already as of
Saturday before being finally scheduled for Sunday at 9:30 in Beersheva... that
is, until terrorist rocket attacks in the South necessitated a quick change of
venue to Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem, an unfortunate development for the
country as a whole, and alas also for the Black Swarm.
chomping at the bit right from the opening kickoff and Ari “Aussie” Wasjport got
the new-found hosts out to an early lead with a 40- yard dash up the sidelines
for the game’s first points.
Kings’ heart-and-soul Marshall Mullinax
turned in perhaps his biggest performance of the season, taking in consecutive
touchdowns to close out the first and begin the second quarters saw Jerusalem
sitting pretty at 20-0.
However, Black Swarm all-around specialist Andrew
Wieberdink picked off an errant Eli Skolnik pass and took it back 57 yards to
the house for a tide-turning TD to breathe some wind back into the Beersheva
Ultimately, the Black Swarm learned the hard way that starting the
season 3-2 is no sure path to the postseason, dropping their fifth straight
encounter by a 20-14 final score to slink out of the playoffs in heartbreaking
Without much time to rest, Jerusalem will travel to Tel Aviv
University this Friday to face the Pioneers in a first-round battle that is sure
to bring out the best in both teams.
The big elephant in the room of
course, is whether Itay Ashkenazi will suit up for Tel Aviv, with him being
potentially a game-changing presence, despite the rapid development of youngster
Both QBs saw the field this past Friday in the tune-up
against the Hammers, however it was the Pio running game that really was the
star of the show in the 54-point blowout.
Rookie Yonatan Shkolsky
continued to tear up opposing defenses, scampering for 168 yards and escalating
touchdown runs of 6, 9, 44 and 45 yards to pace the Clal offense. However, he
was matched by veteran teammate Kobi Nimrod, who went over the century mark with
101 rushing yards, including a 58-yard score as one of his two TDs on the day
for the longest play from scrimmage of the Pioneers’ season.
When it is
all said and done, Hatikva (3-7) will be joining the Black Swarm and the two
expansion teams – the Petah Tikva Troopers (0-10) and Northern Stars (1-9) – on
the outside looking in when the playoffs get under way this weekend.
Northern Stars were victims of the a smothering Haifa defense in Kfar Tavor,
with the Underdogs pitching their second shutout of the season and finishing
with a league-low 162 points allowed to improve to 6-4 ahead of their
first-round match on the road at the Judean Rebels.
All eyes now turn to
the playoffs, where legends are made and broken, dreams shattered and
With the first-seeded Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres (9-1) and Big Blue
Jerusalem Lions (10-0) lurking in the wings awaiting the first-round victors in
the semis, the Kings and Pioneers (Friday, 11 a.m. @ TA University) and Rebels
and Underdogs (Saturday, 9:15 p.m. @ Kraft Stadium) meet with elimination and
pride at stake.
The lines are set, and with two pick-ems, this should
shape up to be a scintillating weekend of football.
is what it’s all about!