Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Group Stage Recap

After beating the top seed in the group, Neve, in the first game of the group stage, Derech Etz Chaim beat Orli Print in the second game 33-0. Here are the highlights...

DEC entered the third game, against D&B, without its two starting wide receivers and our starting quarterback. Because D&B had defeated Neve the previous week, a loss would keep DEC from winning the group and would make them dependent on other teams to assure them a spot in the Holyland Bowl playoffs. 

Last year's quarterback, Yerucham Pliner, ran the offense with a new playbook that relied more on the ground game and screens. The greatest threat to a DEC victory was the fact that five players were playing both offense and defense requiring them to spend more energy than they were used to. 

The game began with DEC sacking the D&B quarterback for a safety . Unfortunately, Pliner could not get the offense moving and D&B took a 7-2 lead with a touchdown. 

DEC came back on the next series; on first down, Pliner threw a bomb to Sam Ash to take back the lead 9-7. DEC scored again on a couple of good runs and a pass to Pinchas Schwartzbaum to take a 15 – 7 lead.

D&B benefited from our tired defense and missed flags and came back to score and convert a two point conversion to tie the game up 15-15 at the half. 

A tired DEC re-energized and re-focused during halftime, received the kick off and quickly converted to take the lead 22- 15. On the next drive Pliner intercepted a D&B pass and returned it with a great block from Ash for a touchdown. From that point D&B lost their composure and DEC held on . One more touchdown run by Pliner and the score was 35 – 15 .

With the win DEC wins the group with a record of 3-0. This means that DEC will enter the Holyland Bowl playoffs as one of the top eight seeds for the first time. We have three weeks to recover form all the injuries. DEC will learn which group runner-up they will face in the Holyland Bowl round-of-16 when the draw is held Motzei Shabbos February 7; that game will be played on February 14.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Recap - Group Stage Game #1

The calendar has turned to 2009, which means that AFI has moved on to the group stage. Derech Etz Chaim played their final regular season game against Neve Tziyon. A rowdy affair ended in a split of the two games. The split kept DEC out of the top eight teams in the standings meaning that DEC would have to settle with a #2 seed in the group stage. As luck would have it, DEC was paired in the same group as Neve, and scheduled in the first game of the group stage to face their opponent from the previous week.

This time DEC game out prepared and completely shut down the Neve offense while opening up for a crushing 67-12 victory.

The DEC defense, ranked first in the league with the fewest points allowed, shut down Neve so completely that in the first half they gained only negative yardage and did not even complete a pass until late in the second half when the game was basically over. The ferocious front line of Sam Ash, Yaakov "Diesel" Hill and Adam Seibsener got through Neve's offensive line and shut down every play either sacking the quarterback, stopping the run, or pressuring the quarterback into interceptions or bad throws. 

Jeffery Malley returned one interception for a touchdown and great blocking let Yerucham Pliner return a punt for another.

On offense, with #1 receiver Chaim Gross sidelined with an injury, Kobi Schwartzbaum stepped up, catching seven touchdown passes from quarterbacks Levi Naiditch and Yerucham Pliner. 

DEC next faces #3 seed Orli Print to clinch a spot in the Holyland Bowl playoffs. DEC stunned the crowd this past week and if they keep playing like they did in this game, they will have a great shot at going all the way! Remember to save all those nickels, dimes and arugot so you can book a ticket on the group flight to the Holyland Bowl. More details to follow as the playoffs progress, but in the meantime enjoy the highlights below, which is the best quality footage we've seen in a long time. (Tip: if the video stutters, click pause until the video buffers.)