The X League has become a more quarterback-driven circuit with the influx of Americans signal-callers in recent years.
The Obic Seagulls are poised to continue the trend, having acquired an intriguing player at the position in Ikaika Woolsey in the hope that he will help the team reclaim the league championship in December.
That quest will begin with the ‘Gulls attempting to capture the Pearl Bowl championship.
“I think once we could do that, we can just kind of keep building and obviously bring the X Bowl (league championship) back to the Seagulls,” the 24-year-old Woolsey said.
“Because it’s been a while, since 2013. And we want to continue on to win the Rice Bowl (the national championship against the collegiate champion). I think it’s everybody’s goal on the team.”
The Seagulls are the winningest Japan X Bowl team with eight titles, but they have not won it for the last three seasons.
Their last Pearl Bowl championship came in 2014.
Woolsey and his Seagulls will take on the reigning champion IBM BigBlue in the final of the Pearl Bowl, which is a spring tournament contested between the X League clubs of eastern Japan.
The Pearl Bowl will kick off at 7 p.m. on Monday night at the Big Egg.
Woolsey, a former starting quarterback for the University of Hawaii, moved to Japan in early March and has played in just three games with his new teammates so far.
But he’s already impressed fans and experts with his poise, arm strength and mobility.
He’s won over many observers with the way he throws his passes, especially long ones, with a picture-perfect throwing motion.
When the Bay Area native was asked if he had modeled himself after NFL superstar Tom Brady, who is from the same area, growing up, Woolsey said that it wasn’t necessarily the case.
“Our games are a little different,” Woolsey said, comparing his style with that of the New England Patriots great, who is the reigning Super Bowl MVP and considered by many to be among the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
“I can make plays with my arm, but also with my feet. He’s not much of a mobile guy.”
Woolsey went on, saying, “It’s funny you say that,” noting that he was coached by the late Tom Martinez, who was best known as the personal quarterback coach and mentor for five-time Super Bowl champion Brady. Martinez died after suffering a heart attack in 2012.
Woolsey said he was taught by Martinez, who was the College of San Mateo head coach and conducted numerous private quarterback coaching sessions for all age groups, when he was in high school.
While acknowledging he probably learned the same fundamental skills as Brady did from Martinez, Woolsey said he developed his throwing motion prior to meeting the famed QB coach.
“My throwing motion came from when I played baseball,” said Woolsey, who was a pitcher. “I was a baseball player, growing up. I didn’t play football until my freshman year in high school, and I didn’t start playing quarterback until my sophomore year in high school.”
However he earned it, Woolsey’s cannon arm, from which he can launch long, rainbow deep balls to his receivers down the field, is definitely one of the strengths in his arsenal.
“I don’t know (how I got it). I’m just blessed, it’s God-given talent, that my arm is strong like that,” said Woolsey, who looks up to NFL quarterbacks like Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. “I feel I can make any throw on the field.
“And even when something breaks down, I know I can believe in my legs to make plays, too.”
As a collegiate player, Woolsey racked up 4,233 yards and 24 touchdowns passing, playing in 35 games for the Rainbow Warriors.
His best year came in 2012, when he passed for 2,538 yards and 13 touchdowns
He also rushed for 382 yards and four touchdowns and left the school with 4,615 all-purpose yards.
The Seagulls signed former UCLA quarterback Jerry Neuheisel last year. After playing for a year, he joined the Texas A&M University football team staff as a graduate assistant this year.