Kings, Rebels triumph in exhibition finales

The IFL preseason came to a close with a pair of highly entertaining affairs that gave fans a glimpse of some intriguing new storylines.

THE JUDEAN REBELS vs Judean Rebels 311 (photo credit: Adlai Mashiach)
THE JUDEAN REBELS vs Judean Rebels 311
(photo credit: Adlai Mashiach)
The Kraft Family IFL preseason came to a close over the weekend with a pair of highly entertaining affairs that gave fans a glimpse of some intriguing new storylines for the 2010/11 local tackle football campaign.
On Thursday night in the capital, the Papagaio Jerusalem Kings edged the Real Housing Haifa Underdogs 21-19 in perhaps the first game in league history to be decided by the feet of the kickers.
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Kings rookie David Brummer booted an extra point as well as twin 24-yard field goals to account for seven of his team’s points and help boost Purple Pride to a tight triumph in its lone preseason contest.
On Saturday, under the lights in Holon, the reigning champion Arthur’s Tel Aviv Sabres stumbled to a second straight defeat, this time at the hands of the Judean Rebels by a final tally of 46-26.
The fastest-running Rebel of them all, Jon Millar, was held to “just” 84 return yards, but still managed to get into the end-zone three times from scrimmage which, combined with Alex Swieca’s two aerial TDs, propelled the Orangemen to a second preseason victory.
Still, both teams were well aware of how much, or little, the outcome of these practice encounters will ultimately mean.
“We are not 2-0, but 0-0,” remarked Rebels’ rookie head coach Betzalel Friedman, trying to temper his players’ jubilance after Saturday’s game. “I’m not going to lie and say it doesn’t feel nice to get started on the right foot, but we still have plenty of work to do if we want to contend for a title, which is our real goal.”
The Sabres, too, treated the evening as not much more than a glorified practice, rotating in their army of players to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squad before they have to go to battle for real.
Adi Hakami and Adam Zenou split time under center, while Sol Rojhani powered the offense with 98 all-purpose yards and two TDs. Even IFL reigning-MVP Jon Rubin made a cameo appearance in his Tel Aviv debut, picking up a two-point conversion on three carries in the shootout loss.
Thursday’s Kings-Underdogs showdown was much more of a defensive stand-off, with both teams still auditioning players at various positions.
Papagaio shared the ball-carrying duties between a trio of able multi-backs, with Brummer, Ari Wasjbort and Jacob Tanenbaum each picking up almost 50 yards on the ground and combining for all 21 of the team’s points. (Albeit, in dissimilar fashions, with Brummer’s seven from two FGs and an extra point, Tanenbaum’s eight on a 13-yard run and two-point convert and Wasjbort’s six on a 24-yard TD reception.) If there’s one thing to say in the aftermath of the first three weeks back on the field, it’s that all six preseason games were surprisingly competitive and of a relatively high caliber, which bodes extremely well for the fourth year of tackle football in Israel, especially with the brand new IFL High high-school league set to kick off next month.
Now, after a week off for the teams to regroup, the regular season will get under way with a double header extravaganza in the capital on Thursday, November 4. The Big Blue Jerusalem Lions and the Rebels – both 2-0 in the preseason – will clash in the evening’s opening contest at Kraft Family Stadium (kickoff 7 p.m.), immediately followed by the Kings hosting the Beersheva Black Swarm in the nightcap.
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