Jerusalem Kings snag last playoff spot

TA Pioneers clinch 2nd, Sabres soar to 10-0.

Tel Aviv Pioneers 370 (photo credit: Sagi Dayan)
Tel Aviv Pioneers 370
(photo credit: Sagi Dayan)
The final regular-season weekend in the Kraft Family IFL featured four games that each brought their own level of intrigue with the 2nd through 6th seeds all being determined in a wild three-day flurry and another jaw-dropping Sabres’ blowout to cap it all off.
Week 16 kicked off on Wednesday with the Clal Tel Aviv Pioneers thoroughly controlling the pace on the road against the Hasharon Hammers in what was effectively a battle for second place and a first-round bye. In his second game in blue, Josh Henry scored three touchdowns in rushing for 106 yards as the Pioneers coasted to a surprisingly comfortable 48-24 victory.
Thursday night’s marquee had the ISD Jerusalem Kings at Travel Leaders’ Beersheba Black Swarm, and the trip south didn’t seem to bother the team from the capital, who grabbed the bull by the horns and powered into the playoffs with a convincing 68-49 conquest.
That Kings’ W meant that Nemo’s Haifa Underdogs were knocked out of postseason contention in excruciating fashion prior to their contest on Friday against the Northern Stars. Haifa’s 64-12 triumph over its neighbor in Kibbutz Saar did little to console the Underdogs, who finished with the same 5-5 record as the Kings and beat them in Jerusalem to boot, but due to the Judean Rebels creating a three-way .500 knot, were left on the outside looking in after the tie-breakers.
There was still a fair amount of excitement heading into Saturday night’s original-four battle between the Bourbon Street Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres and Big Blue Jerusalem Lions, even though both clubs were already locked into their respective seeds of 1 and 4. However, Red Lightning struck again, with the Sabres proving themselves the far superior side in rolling to a 72-12 win that completed their perfect 10-0 regular-season run that will continue in two weeks time in the semifinals.
With all 55 regular-season games in the books, we can now focus to the playoffs, where things always tend to get crazy. It was a tough season for “periphery” and baby teams, as all three Jerusalem clubs made the dance to go along with three clubs from the Mercaz to fill out the six-club party list.
With the first two seeds being held by the Sabres and Pioneers, who have a week off to rest and practice, the Lions and Rebels will clash in the first-round with a Thursday night kickoff under the lights at Kraft Stadium.
This one should be a doozy, as the Lions (6-4) will be looking to avenge a 28-22 February loss to their Judean brethren while the Rebels also seem to show up for playoff games against Big Blue.
The Hammers (8-2) will host the Kings in a Friday morning extravaganza in Ramat Hasharon – a rematch of both teams’ season opener which the Hammers won tightly 12-8 – with the Sabres slated to host the worst-seeded team remaining with the Pios getting the leftover winner the following week in the semis. Israel Bowl VI is on Friday, March 22nd but plenty of hits and highlights remain before then that you surely do not want to miss! For full Kraft Family IFL standings, stats and schedule, as well as for more information on pigskin in the Holy Land, please visit