LIVESTREAM/PREVIEW: X League in Japan Enters Super 9 Stage

The first round of Japan’s Super 9 series featuring the top nine teams in the league kicks off this weekend. The 18 teams in the X League have now been pared down to nine and these nine will play in a three-group round robin stage to determine four semifinalists.

Three games are on tap this weekend

Panasonic Impulse (5-0) v Asahi Beer Silver Star (4-1) Saturday Oct. 31, 11 AM (10 PM EDT)  Yokohama Stadium

Japan - Panasonic Impulse - Ben Dupree

The Impulse finished first in the East Division with a perfect 5-0 record and were led by running back Ben Dupree who made an impact in his first five games in Japan. He led the league in rushing carrying the ball 70 times for 587 yards and nine touchdowns. Asahi finished second in the Central division with a 4-1 record, their only loss being to IBM Big Blue. Their import tandem of quarterback Mason Mills and receiver Roman Wilson combined to create offensive fireworks. Saturday’s game at Yokohama Stadium will mark the second straight year that Panasonic and Asahi Beer will clash in the Super 9 phase. Last year the Impulse humiliated the Asahi 65-3 but that Silver Star team was a far cry from today’s squad.

This will be Panasonic’s ground game versus the Silver Star aerial offense. Mills has completed 113 of 161 passes for 1,708 yards and 19 touchdowns in five games and Wilson has caught 38 passes for 800 of those yards and 13 touchdowns. This will be a game where the defenses know what kind of offenses they are facing and have to figure out how to stop them

IBM Big Blue (4-1) v Obic Seagulls (3-2) Saturday Oct. 31, 2:30 PM Yokohama Stadium (1:30 AM EDT)

Japan - X league - IBM - Meech Eaton

Although IBM dropped the final game of the divisional play to the Deers they enter this game with confidence. Quarterback Kevin Craft has enjoyed an outstanding season and the Big Blue defense led by Meech Eaton and James Brooks has been solid all year. Obic opened the season well in divisional play but tailed off losing their last two games. In the final divisional game of the year, the wheels totally fell off the wagon as they were beaten badly by the Fujitsu Frontiers 41-7 . The Seagulls have not been able to find consistency at the quarterback spot with both Takushiro Hata and Shun Sugawara struggling against the Frontiers. If IBM can keep them off balance in this game it could be a long afternoon for the Seagulls.

Fujitsu Frontiers (5-0) v Elecom Kobe Finies (3-2), Saturday Oct. 31, 2:30 PM (1:30 AM EDT) Expo Flash Field

Japan - Colby Cameron3 - Fujitsu

The Frontiers enter the Super 9 stage as the favorites to win the Japanese title they captured in 2014. Quarterback Colby Cameron has led an aerial offense throwing for 1,388 yards and 20 touchdowns in five games. Running back Gino Gordon was the leading rusher in the East division gaining 367 yards on 45 carries. The Frontiers went undefeated in their five games. Elecom quarterback Keijiro Kasuya has been solid all year and running back/quarterback Inoke Funaki has given the Finies a balanced attack. However, Elecom (3-2) dropped their last two games of the divisional round and were blanked by the Impulse in the final encounter 27-0. They will be in tough.



Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.