The X League’s No. 1 passer faces its stingiest defense when two undefeated teams fight for the X League championship in the Japan X Bowl on Monday at Tokyo Dome.
The defending champion Fujitsu Frontiers quarterback Colby Cameron set the league’s single-season records for passing yards (1,990 yards) and touchdown passes (25) while going for 147 of 209 this year, his second in Japan.
Now the former Louisiana Tech standout takes on a Panasonic Impulse defensive unit that helped secure five shutout victories and allowed just three points per game during their seven-game regular season.
The Impulse won the West Division with an unbeaten 7-0 record and trounced the Nojima Sagamihara Rise 45-17 in the playoff semifinals last month.
“The Impulse have the skilled players in key positions on defense. It’s tough to find their weaknesses,” Fujitsu head coach Satoshi Fujita said.
The East Division champion Frontiers, on the other hand, averaged 54.7 points per game during a perfect 7-0 regular season and defeated the archrival Obic Seagulls 27-6 in the semifinals.
Cameron has prime receiving targets in rookie tight end Yuji Mizuno (32 catches, 304 yards, 5 TDs), and wide receivers Junpei Yoshimoto (26, 303, 2), Takeshi Akiyama (21, 252, 4) and Teruaki Clark Nakamura (18, 434, 7).
On the ground, however, the Frontiers could be without Gino Gordon, who rushed for 580 yards and six TDs, due to a leg injury he suffered in the Obic game. If Gordon is out, Fujitsu will have to rely on backups Kei Goto and Yuichi Kon to complement Cameron’s passing attack.
To clinch their first X League championship since 2008, the Impulse want to slow down Cameron with their pass rush, though it’s not easy when the QB sets up in the shotgun and is also adept at quick throws.
Defensive lineman David Motu leads the team with four sacks, followed by fellow defensive linemen Carlton Jones, Munekazu Shikaa and Yoki Yamaguchi with two apiece. They allowed only 92 yards through the air and 39.1 yards on rushing during the season.
“We have established a solid defense,” Panasonic head coach Nobuyoshi Araki said. “You need a good defense to win games. That’s how we have constructed this team.
“Now we have more hyper offenses in the league because more Americans play here than before,” Araki continued. “Our answer to those offenses is a solid defense. We’ll keep putting pressure on the Frontiers. That is our playing style.”
The Impulse have an offensive weapon of their own in rookie running back Benjamin Dupree, The Citadel alumni, rushed for a league-high 752 yards while scoring 12 times during the season. He also contributes as kick returner.
In the passing game, veteran quarterback Tetsuo Takata, who has led both Ritsumeikan University (2003) and the Impulse (2007) to national championships, will face a challenge against the Frontiers defense, where Al-Rilwan Adeyami led the way with four interceptions including two pick sixes and Nixon Trausaun recorded a team-best five sacks.
“They play a basic defense but they don’t give up a lot of yardage,” Takata said. “That means they have a lot of talented players on defense as well as on offense” Takata said.
The Impulse are making their 14th appearance in the X League championship game, where they’ll look for their seventh title.
The Frontiers will be trying to defend their first ever X League title, which they finally won last season after five unsuccessful attempts.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Popular singer May J. will headline the halftime show.
The winner will play the collegiate champion on Jan. 3, 2016, at Tokyo Dome in the Rice Bowl for the national champion.
Tokyo’s Waseda University battles Kyoto’s Ristumeikan University for collegiate title in the Koshien Bowl on Sunday at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture.
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