Japan: X League Champs Face League’s Hottest Team In Pearl Bowl Final

The 2017 Pearl Bowl at Tokyo Dome on Monday at 7pm sees defending champion IBM Big Blue take on an Obic Seagulls team boasting both the #1 scoring offense and defense. Obic put up 150 points and allowed only 14 en route to a 3-0 crushing of their competition in the Pearl Bowl thus far. IBM, while not as statistically dominant has looked solid in their three victories.

Seagulls’ rookie starting QB Ikaika Woolsey after his stellar performance against Lixil Deers in the semifinals indicated he would be taking the snaps in the championship game. IBM conversely have had both quarterbacks – Kevin Craft and Yuki Masamoto – play significant time in each game thus far, but Masamoto seems to have been given to nod to start on Monday. Craft though has proven the more reliable thrower and with IBM likely needing all the offensive power it can muster to keep up with the Seagulls, he is sure to see the field at some stage.

While intrigue surrounds the quarterback position, the most interesting battle in this game will be fought in the trenches.

IBM Big Blue’s defensive front is arguably the best overall unit in the X-League having held Nojima Sagamihara Rise QB, and potential MVP, Devin Gardner, to 19 points. They are playing with a pride and ferocity that seems to only intensify with each game.

That said, they have yet to face an O-line as powerful or as disciplined as Obic’s. One of these sides will have to give ground and it may be up to Woolsey to create the plays that give his line the edge. When possession flips, the battle up front is no less fascinating as Obic bookends BJ Beatty and Kevin Jackson have terrorized opposing offensive lines. While IBM’s O-line hasn’t played to the level of Obic’s, Kevin Craft has been able to make up for it by staying poised in the pocket and extending plays for big gains. Regardless of which team wins on Monday night, we are primed for a classic between two efficient teams that regularly make big plays.

 

Inside Sport: Japan
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