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Obic, Fujitsu to clash in Japan X Bowl

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

Staff Writer

The three-time defending champion Obic Seagulls seek an unprecedented fourth consecutive X League title while the Fujitsu Frontiers look for their first championship as the Japan X Bowl takes place on Monday at Tokyo Dome.

The Seagulls, who have won a record seven X League titles, dominated physically on both sides of the ball in the regular season and in the playoffs to remain undefeated. Receiver Noriaki Kinoshita led the Central Division with 34 catches and gained 640 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, defensive end Kevin Jackson provides the speedy pass rush to give quarterbacks constant pressure.

Meanwhile, the Frontiers (8-0) have a high-scoring offense led by three running backs: Yusuke Shinshi (54 carries for 481 yards and six TDs), Geno Gordon (46 carries for 448 yards and nine TDs), and Keita Takanohashi (46 carries for 439 yards and nine TDs). They scored 49.1 points per game this season, including the playoffs.

The Frontiers have yet to capture the national championship, but they are the only team to beat the Seagulls in four years. Actually the Frontiers did it twice — in 2010 and last May, both in the semifinals of the Pearl Bowl Tournament. The Seagulls, however, defeated the Frontiers four times during that span, including the 2012 Pearl Bowl Final and the Japan X Bowl in 2011.

The winner of the game plays the collegiate champion for the overall national championship in the Rice Bowl on Jan. 3 at Tokyo Dome. Nihon University fights Kwansei Gakuin University for the collegiate title in the Koshien Bowl on Sunday.