3 Teams Pulling Away as Playoffs Loom in Israel Football League

The three teams at the top of the Kraft Family Israel Football League standings keep on winning, looking to clinch the top seeds in the upcoming IFL playoffs. 

The Jerusalem Lions remain undefeated after beating the Haifa Underdogs, while the Petah Tikva Troopers kept pace downing the Ramat HaSharon Hammers easily. Finally the Tel Aviv Pioneers defeated the Beersheva Black Swarm to stay close to the top two teams in the league.

Jerusalem leads the IFL with an 8-0 record, followed by the Troopers at 7-1 and the Pioneers who are 6-2.

Jerusalem ‘Big Blue’ Lions (8-0) 40 – Haifa ‘Nemo’s’ Underdogs 14 (2-4)

Photo: Neria Granevich

Haifa started the game with a 3-and-out, and the Lions went on a 5-minute drive ending with a short TD pass from David Abell to Ezzy Jaski, 6-0. The Underdogs responded with a 5-minute drive of their own, and Rudy Rattner ran the ball into the end-zone on the first play of the second quarter, 7-6. Abell threw a short pass to Hillel Goldstein who ran over a defender on his way into the end-zone for a 12-7 Jerusalem lead. Haifa punted, and Abell proceeded to throw 5 consecutive completions to 5 different receivers, the last one being Jaski for another score, 20-7.

Haifa answered immediately as Matt Kauffman threw a play-action pass to Tomer Friedler who beat the defense to the goal-line, 20-14. The teams exchanged punts before Abell threw 3 straight completions to Jaski for 75 yards and another score, 28-14 at the break.

Big Blue punted to start the half, but the Underdogs went 4-and-out. Abell and Jaski connected for another score right before the end of the quarter (34-14) and Haifa punted to start the 4th quarter. Abell and Jaski connected for a TD for the 5th time of the night (40-14), and after a Haifa punt the Lions were able to play keep away until it was time to kneel out the clock.

Individual performances

Abell continued to make his case for MVP honors with 23/34 passing for 303 yards and 6 touchdowns without a pick, also leading his team in rushing yards (46). Jaski set a single-game record with 218 receiving yards, as well as 5 TDs (tied for 2nd) on 13 catches (tied for 3rd). Mordy Charnowitz lead the defense with 7 tackles and 2 TFL, and Tzvi Sklar added 4 and a sack.

Kauffman completed 7/18 passes for 72 yards and a touchdown. Rattner had 52 yards and a TD rushing. Mica Allon had 12 tackles, a breakup and a forced fumble and Lee Shaked notched 7 tackles.

This week

The Lions travel to play the Pioneers on Friday, while the Underdogs will host the Troopers on Saturday night.

Petah Tikva ‘Mike’s Place’ Troopers (7-1) 58 – Ramat HaSharon Hammers 0 (4-4)

As usual, Dani Eastman started off the game with a rushing touchdown, 8-0 Troopers. The Hammers went 3-and-out, but Aaron Karp fumbled the ball away to the Hammers’ Haim Abarbanel on the Troopers’ very next play. The Hammers turned the ball over on downs, and Avrami Farkas passed to Karp for a 15-yard score, 16-0. Dvir Argouan lost a fumble, and Farkas immediately made him pay with a 38-yard TD pass to Eastman, 22-0. Argouan lost another fumble and Farkas found Gideon Reiz for a score with 4 minutes to play, 30-0.

The teams exchanged punts but the Hammers’ Adam Kima fumbled the ball away. Elya Hershkovitz picked off Farkas’s pass, but the Hammers could not get on the board before halftime.

Argouan’s pass was intercepted by Eastman, who returned it 41 yards for a TD, 38-0. The Hammers put up a gosh-awful punt, setting up another keeper by Eastman, 44-0. The Hammers turned the ball over on downs to start the 4th quarter, and the Troopers, who for some reason still had their starters in throwing passes, scored again on a pass from Farkas to Reiz, 51-0 with 6:24 to play. The Hammers tried to get things going before time ran out, but Eastman ripped the ball out of Hershkovitz’s hands and ran it back 39 yards for a score with 10 seconds remaining in the game, 58-0.

Individual performances

Petah Tikva

Farkas completed 12/16 passes for 211 yards, 4 scores and a pick. Reiz caught 6-98-2, and Eastman had 8-66-2 rushing as well as a receiving touchdown. Jose Bejar had 7 tackles and a fumble recovery, David Eastman had 5 tackles (3 TFL and 2.5 sacks), and Dani Eastman had 3 tackles and 2 defensive scores.

Ramat HaSharon

Argouan and Ben Landon each threw for 31 yards and Landon lead the team with 18 rushing yards. Nachi Brodt caught 5 passes for 31 yards. Hershkovitz lead the defense with 6 tackles and a pick, and Matis Goldmeier added 4.

This week

The Troopers travel north to face the Underdogs, while the Hammers head home to host the Black Swarm.

Tel Aviv Pioneers (6-2) 36 – Beersheva Black Swarm 26 (2-5)

The surprising Black Swarm gave the short-handed Pioneers a run for their money, on a cold Beersheva Saturday night.

The Swarm drove deep into Tel Aviv territory to start the game, but turned the ball over on downs. QB Steve Markoe drove the Pioneers, and scored on a 1-yard throw to Nimrod Pintel, 8-0. The teams exchanged punts, and the Swarm punted again to start the second quarter. Bar Rudich caught a 14-yard TD pass from Markoe to put Tel Aviv up 16-0, but the Swarm answered immediately with a 48-yard touchdown strike from Matanel Katz to Ronnie Hayes, 16-6. Three plays later it was Pintel getting back on the board as he skied to catch a Markoe pass and ran it 51 yards to the end-zone, 22-6. Asaf Katz helped the Pioneers defense stop the Swarm, and Rudich ran in another score just before the half, 30-6.

The Pioneers turned the ball over on downs to start the half, but Katz’s pass was intercepted by the Pios’ Charles Perez, setting up the visitors for a third Markoe-to-Pintel TD, 36-6. The Swarm punted, but Tomare Curran picked off a Markoe pass on the very next play, and the host Swarm capitalized with a Katz TD run just before the end of the quarter, 36-14. The Pioneers turned the ball over on downs as the 4th quarter got underway, the Swarm punted, and Curran picked Markoe off again, setting up a short Katz TD run, 36-20, with 5:37 to play. The Pioneers punted, and Katz found Michael Alfassi to make it 36-26 with 1:37 to go. The Swarm could not convert the onside kick and Tel Aviv held on for victory.

Individual performances

Tel Aviv

Markoe completed 17/36 passes for 240 yards, 4 scores and 2 picks. Pintel caught 8 passes for 119 and 3 scores, and Rudich had 64 yards and a TD on 8 carries as well as a TD catch. Katz lead the defense with 6 tackles, 1 TFL and a BU, and Perez added 3 and a pick.


Katz completed 8/24 passes for 124 yards, 2 TDs and a pick, as well as rushing for 105 yards and 2 scores. Hayes caught 3-60-1, adding 15 yards on the ground. Sandro Kalandadze lead the defense with 6 tackles, 2 TFL and a sack, and Curran added 5 tackles and 2 picks.

This week

The Pioneers head home for a tantalizing match against the top-seeded Lions, and the Black Swarm will play a road game against the Hammers.