Games We Play - IFL: Sabres upend sluggish Pioneers

Games We Play - IFL Sab

Haifa Underdogs Jerusalem Kings 248.88 (photo credit: IFL)
Haifa Underdogs Jerusalem Kings 248.88
(photo credit: IFL)
It's only 15 days into the Kraft Family IFL regular season, and already a refreshing trend of league-wide parity is beginning to blossom. The past weekend's action was highlighted by a pair of highly-entertaining contests on different sides of the country as all of the remaining teams got their 2009/10 campaign under way. On Friday, in a rain-drenched affair in Yoqne'am, the host Real Housing Haifa Underdogs outlasted the Papagaio Jerusalem Kings 30-22, a victory that it were fortunate to escape with after almost blowing a 24-0 first-half advantage. The next night, in tackle football's first foray into Holon, the Mike's Place Tel Aviv Sabres inaugurated their new home field in style, utterly dismantling the defending- champion Dancing Camel Modi'in Pioneers at the Hapoel TA training grounds across from Wolfson Hospital. Saturday night's 22-10 final didn't reflect the nature of the thrashing the Pioneers (1-1) took, as they were beaten by the Sabres (1-0) in almost every aspect of them game - from passing and receiving, to discipline and coaching as well. It was 22-0 with under three minutes left before an iffy safety and a penalty-aided drive in the final minute spared Modi'in from suffering an embarrassing shutout following their Week 1 victory at home. The revamped Sabres certainly looked new and improved in their schedule-opening triumph. Led by a blanket defense and a pair of inspired offensive performances from Tamir Elterman and Alex Trafton, Mike's Place played a take-the-bull-by-the-horns confident style of football which really paid off. After two subpar seasons, the team seems to have shed the bottom-feeder attitude for good and should be a force going forward. In Friday's season opener for both the Underdogs and Kings, kickoff took place under a sunny sky before the clouds moved in a let out a few hundred buckets-full, which seemed to equalize the playing field. Two touchdowns from Haifa veteran Shachar Yeshurun and the first career score for stalwart Itamar Levin staked Real Housing to a large lead and it looked as if they would cost to a lopsided victory. That was until Papagaio's Jon Rubin took over with four minutes remaining in the first half. The bruising back threw his Jerusalem teammates on his broad shoulders and wouldn't let them lose hope. He rumbled for 132 yards on the ground in 23 carries as well as throwing for 50 yards in the air and scoring two of the three Kings' touchdowns. However, the mad-dash comeback attempt would stall at 24-22, and the only score of the sopping-wet second half would be five-yard keeper by Underdogs' QB Roey Ziv to secure the win. The IFL season continues this week with an intriguing Thursday night double-header in the capital. A pair of 0-1 teams face off to open the evening at 7 p.m. when the Kings get right back to the field after Friday's tough defeat to host the expansion Beersheva Black Swarm, which fell 20-14 to the Pioneers in its maiden effort two weeks ago. Fans at Kraft Family Stadium will then be treated to a bout between the hard-hitting Underdogs and the hard-talking Judean Rebels (0-1), who have been boasting about taking the league by storm since their inception two months. The night-cap begins at 9:30 and the battered bodies should still be peeling themselves of the field as the clock strikes midnight. For more information and a complete 2009/10 season schedule, please visit