Action-packed weekend sparks playoff push

When it was all said and done, the Rebels comfortably secure a 57-26 win to improve to 7-2 on the the campaign.

TEL AVIV PIONEERS receiver Idan Yaron vies for the ball 390 (photo credit: IFL)
TEL AVIV PIONEERS receiver Idan Yaron vies for the ball 390
(photo credit: IFL)
While the season may still be devoid of upsets, the competition is getting much tighter in the Kraft Family IFL as teams start gearing up for the playoffs, or for the chance to play spoilers.
Week 16 featured four fantastic football showdowns, with the Rebels, Hammers, Lions and Sabres emerging victorious, although each with their share of drama.
The Petah Tikva Troopers paid a visit to the Talpion Judeans on Thursday night in the capital, with Ran David making his debut under center and piloting the expansion club to a more than respectable showing, even putting a bit of a scare into the defending champs.
When it was all said and done, the Rebels comfortably secured a 57-26 win to improve to 7-2 on the the campaign.
However as late as the third quarter the outcome was still in question and the Troopers managed to stay within range until an Eli Boymelgreen kick return TD was followed immediately by an Uri Mangisto pick-6 to spark the Orangemen to the runaway result.
Friday’s two-location doubleheader saw Hatikva (3-5) come up with their first win in exactly two months, dominating the Northern Stars 75-34 in the early kickoff at Beit Dani.
Ady Totah led the way for the Hammers, being the only starting QB among the weekend’s eight to avoid turning over the ball, always a recipe for pigskin success.
Arnold’s Northern Stars (1-8), as well, had plenty of positives to take away from the loss, with Shaked Mann tossing for 137 yards and four TDs (as well as one more on the ground).
Roey Ziv hauled in three aerial scores after missing two games as Gang Green outscored the hosts 26-11 in the second half, albeit after staring down a 64-8 deficit after two quarters.
Friday’s afternoon extravaganza back at Kraft Stadium was hyped through the roof, as Itay Ashkenazi, Idan Yaron, Aryeh Bauman and the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers were coming to face their old club, the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions and their former Pio-QB, Chaim Schiff.
While Ashkenazi was forced to sit due to a neck injury, backup Asaf Gelber wasn’t the real reason for the Pioneers’ defensive collapse in a 54-28 stunner that saw the Lions improve to 9-0 on the campaign and within one victory of the IFL’s first perfect regular season.
Turnovers played a key role in this one, as they are wont to do, with Tel Aviv losing four fumbles and throwing two interceptions, directly leading to four Big Blue touchdowns and preventing the Pioneers from really making a game of it, despite a valiant fight-back from an early 22-0 hole.
With the win, the Lions clinched first place in the South Division and a first-round bye, while the Rebels wrapped up second place and a first-round playoff date with the No. 3 seed in the North Division.
As it currently stands, it looks like that will be Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs, who suffered a 44- 20 Saturday-night setback at the hands of the Bourbon Street Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres despite holding a 20-8 advantage late in the first-half.
After a couple of early fumbles, and some heated words with the officials, the Sabres found their stride and left the Underdogs in the dust, but at the start it definitely appeared as if an upset was in the works at Atlit.
All in all, quiet a busy weekend for the IFL with the playoffs set to begin in just two weeks.
While the first two seeds in the South and the third seed in the North seem to be set (although the Hammers could sneak in with a monumental collapse from the Underdogs (4-4), who face the Northstars and Troopers to round out their schedule) first place in the North and third place in the South are still wide-open.
The action continues this weekend, with the picture to become a bit clearer. Thursday night features a scintillating double-header, with the ISD Jerusalem Kings (2-6) hosting the Hammers and Lions and Rebels facing off in a clash that always provides fireworks.
If the Kings beat the Hammers, then the victor of the Kings-Beersheva Black Swarm season finale would grab the final postseason slot in the South.
If the Hammers win this week, the Kings would need to beat the Swarm (3-6) by more than 18 points to avoid Beersheva making their first trip to the dance.
This Friday, the Underdogs will travel to play the Troopers (0-9) at Tel Aviv University in what could turn into a classic trap game unless they come in ready.
On Saturday, the Sabres and Pioneers will duel in what could be a battle for first-place in the North. In the teams’ first meeting, TAJ won 24-6. So if the teams finish with the same record then the point-margin in their head-to-head would determine the division champ.
Any way you look at it, as the weather begins to warm up, so does the end-of-season action in the Kraft Family Israel Football League.
Bottom line, IFL Nation, get ready for some March madness!
For more information on the Kraft Family IFL, please visit