Another exciting season of BBYO DC Council AZAA Football is in the books. After a seven-week season, the eight boys chapters came together at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville on Sunday, Nov. 17, to take part in a winner-take-all playoff tournament.
Heading into the day, there were two heavy favorites: Lantos AZA and Simon Atlas AZA, both of which were undefeated. After breezing through their quarterfinal games, all eyes were on the two powerhouses as they competed against each other in the semifinals. The game was physical and low scoring, with both teams failing to score until right before halftime. However, behind quarterback Jacob Brown, Lantos was able to get on the scoreboard with a touchdown pass to wide receiver, PJ Glasser. Down 12-2 late in the second half after a magnificent catch-and-run by Jon Silverman, Simon Atlas was able to claw its way back into the contest with a short touchdown pass by backup quarterback Brian Mackey. However, that proved to not be enough, as Lantos ended up winning by a final score of 12-8.
In the other semifinal matchup, Melech AZA beat Oseh Shalom BBYO in overtime. The back-and-forth game was highly contested, with the no lead exceeding single digits. With the support of its BBG fans and led by senior quarterback Jordan Goldberg, Oseh Shalom nearly pulled off the upset. However, down by a touchdown with less than a minute remaining, Melech was able to find the end zone, forcing the game into overtime. In overtime, once again, Melech was able to drive down the field into Oseh Shalom territory. Facing a critical third down, Melech quarterback Jared Goldstein lined up in the shotgun. He could not find a player to throw to, as all available receivers were blanketed by the Oseh Shalom secondary. That did not stop Goldstein from making a play, as he took off and scrambled for a game-winning touchdown, thus sending Melech into the AZAA Finals.
With the lights on, Lantos and Melech took the field one last time to decide which team would walk away as this year’s AZAA Football champion. From the opening kickoff, it was clear Lantos was prepared to avenge last year’s semifinal lost to Melech. After forcing a quick punt, Brown led an efficient drive for Lantos, culminating in a touchdown pass to Glasser. Gaining possession after an interception by linebacker Zach Blanken, Lantos increased its lead to 12-0 on another touchdown reception by Glasser. At halftime, Lantos seemed in control of the game, as the team was up two touchdowns and would receive the kickoff to start the second half. They drove down the field once again, with Glasser hauling in his third touchdown reception. However, Melech would not go down easily, as Goldstein, behind the blocking of Ezra Sokobin, capped off a lengthy drive with a touchdown pass. On the ensuing Lantos drive, Brown threw an errant pass, which was easily intercepted. Following that, Melech made it a one-score game with another touchdown by Goldstein. With the momentum now against them, Lantos responded strongly with a drive that resulted in a 10-yard Brown scamper. Melech, however, refused to stop trying. The game concluded with a touchdown pass from Melech freshman Brandon Alter, with the final score 24-18.
For Lantos, this was an even sweeter championship, as the team was able to end the season with a perfect 10-0 record. Furthermore, the seniors were able to end their AZAA Football careers on top, something few are able to accomplish.
”After being the top seed, there was a lot of pressure to perform, and obviously, I am glad we did,” said Daniel Hirsch, Lantos senior offensive tackle, tight end and cornerback. “Finally winning a championship as a senior feels great, and it is even sweeter when you are able to win it with your close friends.”
This season was a success, and each chapter should be proud of its respective seasons. Now, the focus shifts to the 2013 AZAA Basketball Season, beginning on Jan. 26 at the JCC.