Lions, Facing Troopers, Looking for Israel Bowl 3-peat

The Jerusalem team hopes to reprise last year’s success, as Petah Tikva looks to change its luck

Jerusalem Lions' Effi Mishaan running against the Petah Tikva Troopers, 2017.
Dotan Doron

The Jerusalem “Big Blue” Lions will look for a “three-peat” as they face the Petah Tikva Troopers in Israel Bowl XII, the finals of the Kraft Family Israel Football League, at 11 A.M. Friday (March 1) at the Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem. 

The game is a rematch of last season’s Israel Bowl XI final, which the Lions won 28-20. In 2017 the Jerusalem team won the Israel Bowl X final against the Tel Aviv Pioneers 42-36.

The Lions are quarterbacked by three-time MVP David Abell but were propelled this year by the strong performance of rookie running back David Fitoussi — an alumnus of the Kraft Family Israel High School Football League, who rushed for a postseason-record 253 yards in the Lions’ semifinal win over the Tel Aviv Pioneers. The Lions also boast the top scoring defense in the league, lea by Leor Markose, Mordy Charnowitz and Tzvi and Arieh-Leib Sklar.

Petah Tikva is looking to win its first-ever title. They have a three-time MVP of their own, Dani Eastman, and enjoyed strong seasons by WR Danny Mikhailov, QB Avrami Farkas and defensive lineman Ahmed Abu Gaber. The Troopers reached the finals with a decisive win over the Haifa “Nemo” Underdogs, as Eastman scored three times and Mikhailov scored twice, returning from an injury sustained against the Lions in January.

The two teams, who finished as the top two seeds in the regular season, played each other earlier in January, with the Lions pulling off a 27-20 victory. The weather could also factor into Friday’s game. The rain and fierce winds in the forecast could tip the scales in favor of Jerusalem, which has the league’s top running game. Petah Tikva boasts the league’s top passing attack.