The struggling Nojima Sagamihara Rise (0-5) faced another daunting task Sunday, November 3 when they take on the 3-2 Elecom Kobe Finies as Japan’s X League heads into the final two games of the regular season.
Elecom has been the surprise of the XLeague so far racing out to a 3-2 record with wins over the Tokyo Gas Creators (21-16), All Mitsubishi Lions (37-6) and IBM Big Blue (45-38). Their two losses were to the Obic Seagulls, 38-3 and powerful Fujitsu Frontiers, 27-10. The shocking 45-38 victory over IBM a month ago was a real confidence builder for this team.
Quarterback Cody Sokol is the third leading passer in the XLeague having thrown for 840 yards and eight touchdowns. His favorite receiver, Alfonso Onunwor, has 23 receptions for 376 yards and seven touchdowns. Yuki Shirakami leads the Finies in rushing with 44 carries for 249 yards although he has missed a game. Defensive back Sean Draper and defensive lineman Cardell Rawlings lead a defense which is fourth best in Japan.
The Rise are suffering through their worst season in the past three years. They dropped a 15-10 loss to the Tokyo Gas Creators two weeks ago and before that they were blanked by the Obic Seagulls 30-0. They had opened the season by being blanked by the Panasonic Impulse 24-0 and then dropped a 41-35 loss to IBM Big Blue, and were soundly beaten by the Fujitsu Frontiers 49-19.
Despite having an offense that has only averaged 13 points a game, Rise quarterback Jimmy Laughrea is the fourth leading passer in the X League, with 823 yards and six touchdowns. His leading targets, Masato Ito and Yuhei Yagi, are fourth and fourth in the league with 344 and 308 yards respectively in receptions.
Elecom is getting ready for the post season while the Rise are simply trying to salvage a disastrous year with a win.