Aaron Ellis continuing his uphill journey in Japan’s X-League

Aaron Ellis continues to make his mark in the football world and he is now in his second season in Japan’s X-League, but this time in the top division.

A veteran of the European leagues, Ellis has played in Denmark, Romania, Germany, and Austria and was an early-era ELF quarterback. However, in 2022, he transitioned across to the other side to the Pacific Ocean to the X1 Area league, the second tier of Japanese American football. He made his mark as he led his team, the Dentsu Caterpillars, to promotion to the X1 Super League following a successful season where they were the best team in the league.

However, the step up to the X-League Super has proved to be a tough challenge. The Caterpillars are 0-3 to start the campaign and have had a fair number of issues on both sides of the ball. They have only scored one touchdown thus far. However, Ravon Johnson has been a standout as a wide receiver, Johnson is currently ranked 4th in the league for yards with 232. Ellis was far in a way the best quarterback in the X1 Area league in 2022 with 17 touchdowns in seven games and 65.14% accuracy. This season he and the team have had a slower start.

The difference between x1 area and x1 super is size, strength, and coaching. We always knew it would be a big challenge. We have to continue to develop a new culture. [Dentsu] practices less than others so we have to find ways to be more competitive.”

 However, the eyes are looking to the future for the team’s signal caller.

 “It will be important to keep recruiting top talent from the universities as well as transfers. But to attract those younger players we need to continue to develop and be competitive.”

 The plan for the offseason seems to be investing in the youth and future of Japanese football for Dentsu.

“It’ll be a top priority for sure. Along with continuing to develop the guys we have, change our ways of preparation, and use the off-season to get bigger and faster. The size difference has been a top factor this year in struggling. In the first two games, we came out and competed very well in the first two quarters, but then the size factor came into play, and we ran out of gas.”

 Last year at Dentsu, Ellis was asked about the quality of football in Japan’s second tier. He responded with his hypothesis that there are more individually talented and athletically gifted players in Europe. But, discipline, football IQ and work ethic are at a higher level in Japan. It seems this has taken a step up in quality in the X1 Super.

“The football knowledge is still higher, and I would say that the top half of the x1 super teams have a very high individual athletic ability”.

Ellis’ thoughts for the end of the season are definitive.

“I love being here, even with the struggle, we can build something great here it’s just going to take some time and hard work. It’s very rewarding to build a team and watch it grow over time.”

Time will tell how Dentsu will finish the season and how they will rebuild for the next one.