The 2023 Goldberg’s Bagels/Mama Leah’s Postseason began on the cold and rainy Sunday morning of December 10th. While the league hoped the weather would hold up, with only a few minutes remaining in the first half, the initial drizzle at the start of the game quickly became a torrential downpour. With the “Y & L Landscaping” fields covered in puddles, the “I Heart Remodeling” officiating crew quickly reviewed the “Markovitz Orthodontics” league rules and in an unprecedented move, postponed the game to be continued the following week.
Games were resumed on Sunday, December 17th and at the conclusion of the two exhilarating matches, Sushi Sakura and Worthy Insurance were set to battle each other for the 2023 “Zion IV” Championship Trophy.
Read on for details from the Playoffs and Championship games:
In true Chanukkah fashion, a game that was supposed to take two hours ended up taking two weeks. The game opened on December 10 under miserable conditions, with neither team able to move the ball. The only points came on a safety, resulting from an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone. Mercifully, the game was postponed until the following week.
Sushi Sakura opened “week two” of the game with a promising drive derailed by an endzone interception. Sakura’s D-line came to play, disrupting Clothier all day. Sakura then marched down the field with a clutch first down pass to Chaim Pleeter, a long completion to Gedalia Gelb on the left side with one second left, and a touchdown to Mitch Gross. Gross was active, with two touchdowns and five interceptions on the day. The daggers came with an endzone interception by Asher Meth and a demoralizing safety at the hands of Nosson Waldman. Journeyman Dudi May complemented Waldman on the D-line and stepped up into the quarterback role due to Sakura’s quarterback suffering a pediatric injury. Sakura’s locker room was festive and excited about the postseason win, despite the kri’a Clothier made on Josh Kronick’s jersey.
In a brilliantly dramatic game that came down to the final play, Worthy Insurance held off Tripping Kosher for an impressive win and a second consecutive trip in as many years to the JCFL Championship. Worthy benefited heavily from a penalty called on a 2 point conversion attempt, late in the game. That penalty gave Worthy a 7 point lead with only minutes remaining in the game.
Despite the setback, Tripping Kosher’s QB, Chaim Fink, rallied his troops and led an impressive drive downfield, culminating in a beautiful rainbow pass in the back of the end zone to All-Pro WR Mordy Reches to pull Tripping Kosher within 1. But Worthy Insurance made a defensive stand on the extra point attempt, in essence ending the game to give Worthy the win.
The 2023 season of the Jewish Community Football League was one for the ages. In a year with 4 new captains and 25 new, young, talented players, some thought that this would finally be the season that the young guys took over the league. But it was the veterans of Worthy Insurance, led by Captain Chaim Finkelstein, who proved that experience still matters.
Worthy got the ball first and wasted no time scoring. On the third play of the game, IDF veteran Sammy Cohen got behind the secondary and Finkelstein heaved a 45 yard bomb to the endzone for the first touchdown of the game. Sushi Sakura responded with a TD run from rookie QB Yaakov Rosenblum and a defensive TD (Pick 6) by Eli Dollman. Worthy tied the game on a 35 yard touchdown grab by superstar Shloime Scheinfeld, and after Finkelstein intercepted Rosenblum, Scheinfeld caught his second touchdown of the day. But Sushi Sakura regrouped and with time running out in the first half, Roseblum hit star WR Mitch Gross for a TD, giving them a 19-18 lead at halftime.
On the opening possession of the second half, Sushi scored another touchdown (this one by rookie, Dudi May). Unbeknownst to the Sakura team, this would be their final TD of the game. The rest of the game was the Yoni Finkelstein show. After dominating last year’s Championship Game, Yoni’s encore was even better. First, he made a jaw-dropping, leaping grab for a 30 yard touchdown that tied the game again. On the next drive, he caught his patented 10 yard back-shoulder touchdown for the go-ahead score. Then, he sealed the game (and the Walter Johnson Jr. Most Valuable Player Award), with an incredible 15 yard touchdown snag, in traffic, coming across the endzone.
Worthy’s defense shut down Sushi the rest of the game thanks to great line play from veterans Avromi Freund, Motti Bendet, and rookie Eitan Rock. Bentzion Shamberg, Shragi Lerner, and Moishe Stal were also big contributors to Worthy’s win. Final score Worthy Insurance: 38 – Sushi Sakura 25.
Thank you to all the referees, sponsors, fans, and players for a wonderful season! See you all next year!