Japan’s X-League headed into 2nd weekend of action

The X-League continues its COVID-19 shortened season in Japan this weekend with six of the seven teams in action.

The Fujitsu Frontiers, reigning champions, are coming off a 48-3 thumping of the Nojima Sagamihara Rise and will face IBM Big Blue who dropped their opener 35-28 to Elecom Kobe Finies. Elecom will take on the Rise while the Obic Seagulls will be playing their first game of the year when they take on the Tokyo Gas Creators, 38-0 losers two weeks ago to the Panasonic Impulse.

Saturday, November 7, 0-1 IBM Big Blue v. 1-0 Fujitsu Frontiers

The defending champion Frontiers were easy winners in the opening weekend of action in the X-League, rolling over the Rise, 48-3. IBM Big Blue lost a tough one to the Kobe Finies on the last play, dropping a 35-28 decision. For Fujitsu, QB Michael Birdsong threw for 196 yards and 1 TD in the win while his backup Tsubasa Takagi had 43 yards passing and another TD. They will be tough again. Add RBs Trashaun Nixon (38 yds/1 TD) and Samajie Grant (96 yds/1 TD) and the offense looks formidable. For IBM, Yuki Masamoto took most of the snaps in the loss to Elecom. He threw for 206 yards and 2 TDs while head coach Kevin Craft threw for 35 yards and the other 2 TDs. How much of the load that Craft will handle in this game is uncertain. WR Suzuki Takaki caught 3 of the 4 TD passes two weeks ago and will be a key.

This game could probably be the game of the week in Japan.

Sunday, November 8, 0-1 Nojima Sagamihara Rise v. 1-0 Elecom Kobe Finies

Playing with QB Takanori Kobayashi, who threw for 166 yards in last week’s loss. the Rise will need to execute well against an Elecom squad that looked impressive in the win over IBM. Also,  RB Dereck Akira Williams, who rushed for 33 yards and caught 3 passes for 17 yards will need to step up. Nojima’s top receiver two weeks ago, Takahide Dejima, who caught 3 passes for 40 yards may find more space in the secondary this week. In the victory over the Big Blue, Elecom QB Cody Sokol threw five touchdown passes with Alfonso Onunwor his main target with a whopping 12 catches for 251 yards and three of those touchdowns. The Rise secondary could be in for a long afternoon if they do not get Onunwor under some kind of control.

Nojima defeated the Kobe Finies in the only meeting between the two teams in 2019, 14-12.

Sunday, November 8, 0-1 Tokyo Gas Creators v. 0-0 Obic Seagulls

The Obic Seagulls had an opening round bye while Tokyo was shut out 38-0 by the Panasonic Impulse. In the loss, Gas Creators QB Shunta Wakabayashi threw for 94 yards while his backup, Hiroki Nakamoto threw for just 21. They will need far better numbers to have a chance in this game. Expect Obic to be ready for this game with RB Taku Lee in the lineup along with QB Jimmy Laughrea who came to the Seagulls after two seasons with the Nojima Sagamihara Rise, where he completed 178 of 337 passes for 2,511 yards and 18 touchdowns. Players Tokyo needs to keep an eye on include WR Aruto Nishimura and TE Holden. Obic had the stingiest defense in the league last year and will be led by LB Takuya Iwamoto and DE BJ Beaty.

Obic looks to be the clear favorite in this one. They whipped the Gas Creators in 2019 62-7.

Graphics: Igor Lazarevic

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