IFL players 311.
(photo credit: Dalya Sela)
The Big Blue Jerusalem Lions got a small measure of revenge against the Arthur’s Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres in the Kraft Family Israel Football League preseason opener with an emphatic 40-20 victory before a pigskin-starved crowd on Thursday night in the capital.
The next day up North, the Judean Rebels and Real Housing Haifa Underdogs got their 2010/11 campaigns started as well, with the Orangemen emerging with a feisty 34-19 triumph courtesy of a pair of length-of-field kickoff returns from Barbadian speedster Jon Millar.
The Sabres, who captured the 2009/20 Israel Bowl title with a thrilling
conquest of the Lions on the same turf at Kraft Stadium just five months
earlier, were victimized by an old nemesis, Jerusalem quarterback Itai
Ashkenazi, who was in stunning first-game form while shredding the TA/J
defense with three touchdowns and no turnovers. His counterpart,
fourth-year IFL veteran Adi Hakami, was sharp early, but tailed off in
the second half and gave way to firsttime signal caller Adam Zenou, who
proved to be no more effective in relief.
Lions’ receiver Binyamin Schultz made a dazzling IFL debut, with a pair
of touchdown grabs from the slot position, while Idan Yaron was his
dependable self with a pair of scores as well as Big Blue claimed a
convincing victory in Yonah Mishaan’s first game at the helm.
However, as Sabres’ coach Jon Sharon rightfully pointed out at the end
of the contest, “The final score of a preseason contest means absolutely
It is all about getting some of the rust off and reestablishing
chemistry. I am happy with our effort without having to look at the
On Friday, it was certainly a pair of revamped squads that faced off in
Yokne’am, with both the Rebels and Underdogs fielding more than 20
rookies on their rosters.
Most notably, Alex Swieca made an impressive debut for Judea at QB while
Haifa – welcoming back returning head coach Ori Shterenbach – finally
seems to have found the receiving core to complement fourthyear vet
Except for Millar’s theatrics, the game was back-and-forth throughout
and the teams seemed fairly evenly matched, albeit in clear preseason
However, all seven other teams were put on early notice that unless they
find a way to neutralize the Rebels’ specialteams super-weapon, the
Orangemen will be a tough date on anyone’s calendar.
Looking ahead at the IFL schedule, the preseason will continue for
another two weeks, with the Lions in Tel Aviv to face the newly
relocated Pioneers this Friday and the expansion Herzliya Hammer to kick
off the franchise’s first game in Beersheva on Saturday night against
the host Black Swarm.
This season, with eight teams, the IFL has divided into two regional
conferences of four clubs each. The Lions, Black Swarm, Rebels and
Papagaio Jerusalem Kings will make up the Southern Conference, while the
Sabres, Underdogs, Pioneers and Hammer will comprise the Northern
Each team will play a home-and- away series with the conference rivals
while playing each opponent from the other division one time, for a
total of 10 games.
The regular season opens on Thursday, November 4, in Jerusalem with a
Lions-Rebels, Kings-Black Swarm doubleheader extravaganza. Israel Bowl
IV is set for Friday, March 18, in the capital.
Sport5 will be back on board to cover the fourth season of tackle
football in Israel on television while the brand-new Israel Sports Radio
will be the home for the IFL, with live games on Thursday nights
throughout the season.
For more information on the Kraft Family Israel Football League, please visit www.IFL.co.il