Hammers roll to 5-0; Pios at 3-0; Rebels on track

It was another busy weekend in the Kraft Family IFL, with a pair of powerhouses again asserting their dominance.

IFL logo 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
IFL logo 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
It was another busy weekend in the Kraft Family IFL, with a pair of powerhouses once again asserting their dominance and another proud former Israel Bowl champion finding its form and snapping a three-game losing skid.
On Thursday night in the capital, the Talpion Judean Rebels overcame an opening-kickoff TD return and scored the next 48 points en route to a 62-14 conquest of the Petah Tikva Troopers.
Friday saw the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers come up with a huge shutout of a developing franchise for the second weekend in a row, this time setting the IFL margin-of-victory record with an 88-0 humbling of the expansion Rehovot Silverbacks.
A rundown field in Atlit was the site for Saturday night’s anticipated clash between the Hasharon Hammers and Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs. The Hammers came in sporting a spiffy 4-0 record, although the match against the 3-2 Underdogs was billed as their first real test in a while.
Although Jordan Curran was back under center for Hasharon, the muddy conditions definitely hampered the passing game, a seeming advantage for the hosts.
However, the Hammers demonstrated that they are a force to be reckoned with in all facets of the game, riding a smothering defensive effort and a turnover-free performance on offense to claim a statement- making 40-12 triumph and remain undefeated with half their regular-season games in the books.
Yakir Lasri opened the scoring midway through the opening frame after both teams traded three-and-outs. The visitors tacked on another two points on a Safety tackle by Keith Noble to make it 10-0 after 12 minutes. Despite a decent display by the Haifa cornerbacks, Curran was able to hit favorite target Nick Zhiharev for the only score of the second stanza to silence the home crowd and take his team into the half with a gaudy 18-0 advantage.
A stern scolding from their coaches during the break led to the Underdogs buckling down in the third quarter, and with some help from the refs, orchestrated a nearly 10 minute drive that culminated in Matt Kauffman plunging into the endzone and cutting the deficit to just 12 points with plenty of time left to mount a comeback.
Ultimately, Haifa’s TD simply woke up the Hammers once more, and halfway through the final frame, Curran broke out of the pocket and dashed 18 yards to the endzone to open the floodgates a bit.
Rob Candrian had a pick-6 on Nemo’s very next play from scrimmage, and Lasri’s second score of the contest with just over a minute remaining was the icing on the cake of a resounding road victory for Hasharon, while a 41-yard run on the final play of the game from Haifa’s Tom Arkin at least allowed the fans to go home with a little smile on their faces.
Up next for the surging Hammers is a huge game against the Big Blue Jerusalem Lions in the capital on January 17, while the Underdogs host the Rebels next Friday after a week off.
On Thursday night, the Rebels gave notice that they are not to be forgotten, despite suffering three straight defeats against the Bourbon Street TA/Jaffa Sabres, the ISD Jerusalem Kings, and the Beersheba Black Swarm.
That Orangeman slump allowed the Troopers to enter Kraft Stadium in an optimistic frame of mind, especially after Chris Daves took back Liran Zamir’s opening kickoff the length of the field for an 8-0 PT lead.
However, Elan Yudkowsky and Dani Eastman would give their team a 14-8 advantage before the first quarter was done, and the Judeans were off to the races. Eastman added four more touchdowns for a total of five on the day, while Yudkowsky scored a pair of TDs himself while throwing for another in what quickly turned into a rout.
David Arshavsky took most of the snaps for the Rebels, tossing three touchdowns and scampering for two more as the defense recovered four and didn’t allow another Troopers point until Natan Shefer hit Sahar Yair for a 45-yard TD to then make the score 48-14 in the definition of too-little-too-late.
At least the Troopers were able to mount some semblance of an offensive game plan.
The Silverbacks, on the other hand, were completely outmatched in Friday’s game against the Pioneers at Tel Aviv University.
The Pioneers are clearly one of the premier teams in the league, and came out playing their brand of football in scoring on nearly every one of their possessions and spreading the running game around to whoever has the hot hand.
Adi Badash scored the first TD of the game, followed by scoring strikes from Ron Moscona, first to Raphael Blum and then to Bar Rudich to stake the hosts to a 22-0 lead entering the second quarter.
Moscona began the game on a sizzling 7-for-7 run, finishing 7-for-10 for 92 yards and three total TDs, with his only blemish coming on a diving interception from Shay Zilberberg, perhaps the Silverbacks only highlight on a dismal day.
Rehovot QB Michael Slabodkin couldn’t complete a pass to his own teammates (going 0-12) however, he seemed to be quite accurate to members of the opposing team, as the Pioneers notched a season- high six interceptions, with Lew Duker and Sagan Zavelo snatching a pair and Zavelo and Or Zohar taking in pick-sixes.
Ben Hadar also had a breakout game for Tel Aviv, carrying the ball 11 times for 54 yards and three touchdowns, while veterans Kobi Nimrod and Elan Neiger rounded out the lopsided scoring for the Pioneers (3-0), who can now look ahead to a delicious derby showdown coming up in two weeks against the Sabres.
Meanwhile, there is an eventful four-game slate this week in the Israel Football League to ring in the new year. The action kicks off on Wednesday night with the Rebels entertaining the Northern Stars (1-4) while the Kings will host the Sabres (5-0) the following night at 7:30 p.m. in the same venue.
Friday will see the Lions (3-1) travel to Rehovot to take on the Silverbacks at 10:30 a.m. with Saturday’s finale featuring the Beersheba Black Swarm (1-4) visiting the Troopers, with an 8:30 p.m. kickoff under the lights in Modi’in.
For full Kraft Family IFL standings, stats and schedule, please visit www.israel-football.co.il