Two time Winner USA v. Two Time Winner Japan Promises Fireworks in IFAF World Championship

IFAF World Championships: USA (1-0) vs. Japan (0-0)

If there was a game to look forward to in this World Championship tournament it is this one. The two-time defending champion USA against the two-time champion Japan. The only two countries to ever win the IFAF World Championship will face each other for the first time since 2007 when the United States was pushed to double overtime before finally downing Team Japan 23-20.

There are plenty of comparisons between these two teams. For instance, Japan won its first seven IFAF World Championship games, a record that was equaled by the United States in the 2011 final and broken on Thursday in the Americans’ opening win of the 2015 tournament. Japan’s only other loss within a 10-2 record came against Canada, 31-27, in the group stages of the 2011 tourney. Japan took the silver medal in 2007 and bronze in 2011 making it the only nation to have medaled at all four previous tournaments.

IFAF WCs - USA v Japan 2pic3

Japan v Austria in 2011 tournament/USA v Mexico 2015

Japan head coach Kiyoyuki Mori was a member of the offensive coaching staff in 2003, offensive coordinator in 2007 and head coach in 2011. Japan returns a total of 15 players who were part of the 2011 tournament – the most of any country – including eight who played in the 2007 gold medal defeat to the United States.

Japan earned the first round bye and so they looked on as the USA found their feet early in the first quarter against Mexico as quarterback Kevin Burke, who lives right down the road so to speak from the stadium, was very solid. Completing 18 of 27 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown he managed the team well and when his back up Dylan Favre (yes Brett Favre’s nephew) entered the game, the USA had the situation well in hand. Nevertheless, Favre had time to throw for 176 yards and a touchdown. In fact,  Favre set a new average yards completion per game high with a 29.3-yard mark.

IFAF WCs - USA - Dylan Favre

Dylan Favre

Running back A. Wimberly rushed for 58 yards on nine carries and a touchdown as the USA racked up a total of 408 yards in total offense.

Team USA’s defense was superb on the night never allowing Mexico’s two quarterbacks any breathing room and holding them to 87 yards in total offense.

United States defensive lineman Tevin Davis, who posted 2.5 of the team’s record 8 sacks against Mexico Thursday, said:

“For a strong pass rush, it has to do with all three defensive linemen along with the linebackers and defensive backs holding their coverage. That allows us to go after the quarterback up front. And if it wasn’t for our other defensive end or our nose guard, I wouldn’t have gotten those sacks.”

“We look forward to playing Japan. It feels real good to have a game under our belt and know what we need to work on to be a better team.”

The Japanese squad has been years in the making and they have a reputation of discipline and of being very well coached. Coach Mori knows full well how to prepare a team for a short, highly intensive tournament with little downtime once games begin. He has been there

IFAF WCs - Japan

Qualifying for the 2015 World Championships

Team USA head coach Dan Hawkins, who heads directly to Sweden to coach with the Carlstad Crusaders after the World Championships, has prepared his team well and the player selection process has been rigorous to say the least. His quarterbacks coach, and son, Cody Hawkins, was the starting quarterback for the United States team in 2011 and is well aware of the difficulties and problems of playing an extremely truncated schedule such as for these championships. His experience will be invaluable for many of the players.

Team USA should be the heavy favorite, but Japan is fully aware of their underdog role and can surprise.

Watch the game live July 12, kickoff is at 7 PM EDT in Canton, Ohio.

All games will be broadcast live and streamed globally on ESPN3 in the United States, on ESPN International broadband channels where available, and at BigTimeSports.com.

 

Roger Kelly
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.
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