tackle football 88.
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If I were the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs, I would be feeling just a teensy bit nervous this morning! I don't think even they would want to bet against the Dancing Camel Modi'in Pioneers these days. And with good reason!
On Saturday night in Kiryat Shalom, the boisterous bunch from Modi'in traveled to face the Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres and continued their two-month tear by putting a licking on the hosts. The 44-12 convincing final was the Pioneers' sixth consecutive victory and guarantees that their season-finale against the undefeated Underdogs will have a first-place shot on the line.
Tel Aviv, meanwhile, dropped its sixth straight contest after an encouraging preseason that forecast better results than the club has thus far produced. While there were plenty of thing done right by the last-place Sabres in what was always going to be a very tough match against a superior opponent, falling behind two (converted) scores early on busted plays that turned into Pioneers TDs really put Mike's Place behind the eight-ball and it was just too much to overcome, even after calming down for a much stronger second half.
The top and bottom of the Kraft Family IFL standings still hold plenty of intrigue heading into the final month of the regular season. The second-place Pioneers can clinch first with a victory by at least 11 points in their final game on March 13 in Yokn'eam, regardless of what the Underdogs do in their penultimate match in Jerusalem. If the Underdogs (6-0) get beaten by the defending champion Big Blue Jerusalem Lions (2-3) their next time out, all it will take is a straight out win by Modi'in in the last game to hand them the top ranking.
On the other end, even though it has yet to pop any victory champagne this year, Tel Aviv can still qualify for the postseason in a number of scenarios if it can at least manage to defeat the Blue Sun Music Jerusalem Kings (1-5) in a must-win tilt in two weeks at home.
Keeping to a disciplined game-plan without much bells and whistles has done the 6-1 Pioneers quite nicely this season and Saturday night was no exception. In denying the Sabres their first win, Dancing Camel relied on a super-efficient performance from QB1a Tal Brown, two short touchdown runs by multi-purpose back Asaf Katz and two longer scoring plays combined with their typical shutdown defense to coast to a victory that was never really in doubt after the first few exchanges.
The Australian-born Brown finished a perfect 5-5 in the passing department, for 81 yards and a TD strike to Ron Moscona to go along with no picks. He also ran three times for 17 yards and two more touchdowns, plus took on the added responsibilities of kicking and punting. His all-around formidable effort earned him this week's Mike's Place player of the game.
Even while employing a conservative offensive approach, throwing the ball only 12 times and distributing the play-calling over a 75/25, run/pass ratio, the Pioneers racked-up a season-high 384 total net yards by getting balanced production in each facet of the game. From interception returns for over 40 yards, to kickoff and punt returns that ate up large chunks of field and set the team up with good field position on a number of drives, to the usual over-150 yards rushing and close to 100 yards passing, all the aspects of winning football were, once again, present in another not-so-difficult-to-understand Pioneers' romp.
The Kraft Family Israel Football League returns on Saturday night, February 28 with a 9 p.m. kickoff to what is sure to be a leave-it-all-on-the-field bout between the Sabres and Kings in Kiryat Shalom.
In the teams' first meeting, Blue Sun Music outlasted Mike's Place 56-38 in a Jerusalem backyard brawl and the Sabres will have the added incentive of revenge to what is an already a must-win affair to keep their postseason chances kicking.