The Fujitsu Frontiers have built a dynasty having won their fourth straight X League championship with a 28-26 victory over the Panasonic Impulse in Monday night’s Japan X Bowl at Tokyo Dome.
They likely could not have achieved those feats without their import players and American coaches.
But none of them knows the process what it takes to become the best team in Japan better than Al-Rilwan Adeyami. The 29-year-old defensive back is the longest-tenured foreign player on the powerhouse club.
While it was nothing new for the Frontiers to hoist the championship trophy, Adeyami, one of the vocal and spiritual leaders for the team, looked ecstatic when they captured another one.
“I’m so excited, so excited,” Adeyami said with a beaming smile. “I remember when I came (to Japan), (the Frontiers) came in second place like five times (at the X Bowl).”
Adeyami was correct. The Frontiers punched their first ticket to the X Bowl in 2002 and made four more times through 2013, Adeyami’s first season with the club. Yet it fell short each time.
Before Fujitsu, it was the Obic Seagulls that dominated the league, winning four league championships in a row from the 2010 season. And the fourth title came in 2013 against Fujitsu.
Adeyami recalled the memory of his team beating the Seagulls in the playoff semifinals in the 2014, when it eventually grabbed its first-ever X League title. The University of San Diego alum insisted that his younger teammates were able to cherish thembeing on top based on their team’s past effort to build a legitimately strong club.
“When we beat Obic for the first time (in 2014), everyone was crying,” said Adeyami, who was born in Nigeria and grew up in the United States. “So a lot of these newer guys don’t know how it’s like to lose because we haven’t lost for so long. So for that, it’s an amazing feeling and everyone has a taste of winning. They never want to go back.”
The Frontiers have not missed an X Bowl berth since 2013, losing only once in 2015 to the Impulse. Different import players have come and gone, like quarterback Colby Cameron and running back Geno Gordon, through the years.
Adeyami, who had the second-most interceptions in the league with three this season and has been selected for the all-X League team since his arrival in Japan, has been part of it all.
The five championships of Fujitsu now rank third behind Obic (eight) and Panasonic (seven).
The Frontiers, who have been unbeaten this season, play in the Rice Bowl against collegiate champion Kwansei Gakuin University on Jan. 3 at Tokyo Dome.