Tackle Football: Nearly flawless Haifa reaches Israel Bowl

The squad that lost to Hasharon Pioneers in November was substantially different from the one that ran onto the field at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet on Saturday.

football feat 88 224 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
football feat 88 224
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Notice had been served in recent weeks. The Real Housing Haifa Underdogs squad that lost to the Dancing Camel Hasharon Pioneers in November was substantially different from the one that ran onto the field at Kibbutz Ein Hashofet on Saturday afternoon for their semi-final playoff game. Either the Pioneers did not get the memo or, more aptly, they were simply helpless to fend off the powerful Real Housing attack and withered under the unyielding storm, going down by a final score of 38-14 in front of a spirited crowd on a beautiful day for football in Haifa. The game started out like a typical playoff contest with both teams a little tentative at the outset in their play-calling, neither wanting to make a mistake and give up a game-changing score. Once Haifa (7-3) got going in full gear, however, the game changed drastically in their favor as they settled into their typical high-pressure style of play and started to take the advantage of mismatches in coverage. The turning point of the game occurred at the mid-way point of the second quarter, after the Pioneers (3-7), down by only six points, forced the Underdogs to punt from deep in their own territory. Niv Medlinger got off a towering kick that looked as if it would go into the endzone for a touchback, which would place the ball at the fifteen yard line and give Dancing Camel a chance for a game-tying drive. However Shmuel O'Neil ill-advisedly fielded the ball at his own goal line and was immediately leveled, pinning the offense at the one-yard line. Two plays later, Yoni Mayzel threw an errant pass that Shachar Yeshurun picked off and high-stepped into the endzone for a touchdown, giving Haifa a 14 point lead on which they never looked back. Overall, the Underdogs were very efficient at taking care of business at home and careful to play 'within themselves', not becoming overconfident while allowing their superior preparation and talent to manifest itself on the field. The results speak for themselves - they came, they saw, they conquered. Now bring on the Big Blues...er, boys! The IFL takes this week off for the upcoming three day Purim festival and returns in two weeks on Friday, March 28, at Kraft Stadium. The championship-weekend daytime double-header will feature an undercard 3 vs 4 match-up between the Pioneers and the Mikes Place Tel Aviv Sabres (1-8) at 10:00 a.m., followed by the main event - a 1:00 pm kickoff of the inaugural Israel Bowl to determine the IFL champion between the Underdogs and the first-place Big Blue Jerusalem Lions (8-1).