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TOP > Game Report > Fujitsu, Obic players head Japan team to World Championship

Game Report

Fujitsu, Obic players head Japan team to World Championship



Wide receiver Noriaki Kinoshita was one of 11 Seagulls named to the Japan national team for the upcoming IFAF World Championship in the United States.

































Two powerhouses filled more than half of the places on the Japan national team for the upcoming IFAF World Championship, while just two quarterbacks and ageless defensive lineman Yasuo Wakisaka were also among the final cuts.


The Fujitsu Frontiers had 13 players and the Obic Seagulls had 11 selected to the 45-man squad named Monday for the 5th edition of the world championship, to be played July 8-18 in Canton, Ohio.


“Taking into consideration the short time to prepare, I think we chose the best roster with high-level players who can make the necessary adjustments and are physically strong,” Japan head coach Kiyoyuki Mori was quoted as saying.


The announcement came a day after the national team routed a combined squad of X-League and Keio University players 58-0 in an exhibition game at Fujitsu Kawasaki Stadium. The team was trimmed from 56 to the final roster of 45 that will hope to dethrone the defending champion United States.


One big decision team leaders had to make was whether to carry two or three quarterbacks. But with Japan playing one less game due to the withdrawal of Canada, it appears they feel secure by bringing just two QBs to Canton, the Panasonic Impulse’s Tetsuo Takata and the Lixil Deers’ Shohei Kato.


Left out was Fujitsu’s Keiya Hiramoto, who filled in when starter Colby Cameron was injured just before halftime of the Japan X Bowl and completed the victory over the IBM BigBlue for the Frontiers’ first-ever league title. He then led Fujitsu to victory in the Rice Bowl for the national championship.


On Sunday, he appeared to help his case, completing 7 of 8 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. But it came down to numbers and he was the odd man out.


Panasonic’s 46-year-old Wakisaka will become the only player to appear in all five editions of the world championship, which started in 1999 when it was known as the World Cup. He made the team two years after tearing an Achilles tendon.


“I thought this would be the last time in my career on the Japan national team, so I want to give it everything I’ve got in America,” Wakisaka said. “I may take my lumps, but I want to give it a shot.”


Wakisaka takes the light-hearted ribbing from players half his age in stride. “I don’t think about my age,” he said. “I’m just trying to play at as high a level as I can.”


Obic running back Takuya Furutani was selected for the fourth time, while Takata and Lixil wide receiver Naoki Maeda have become three-time selections, along with five members of the defense—linemen Motoyuki Hirai (Fujitsu) and Mitsunori Kihira (currently teamless), linebackers Masayoshi Tsukada (Obic) and Shoichiro Suzuki (Fujitsu), and defensive back Takeshi Miyake (Obic).


There are 27 players who will make their debuts at the world championship, including Kato, IBM wide receiver Takashi Kurihara and Panasonic kicker/punter Shintaro Saeki.


Kurihara, who has attended the Baltimore Ravens’ camp and went to the NFL veterans combine, has recovered from the knee injury that caused him to miss the X-League’s abbreviated spring season. He passed a “fitness test” in Sunday’s game when he caught five passes for 55 yards.


“My knee has gotten a lot better,” Kurihara said. “From last Saturday I started practicing again, and at this point, it seems there is no problem.”


Kurihara admits he was a bit tentative going into the game, but was relieved to get through it unscathed.


“If I got tackled and it got into an odd position and started hurting, I would have had to withdraw [from the team],” he said. “I was a bit worried at first, but little by little, I started feeling it was alright.”


The squad also features Obic wide receiver Noriaki Kinoshita, one of the X-League’s most explosive players who made a name for himself in NFL Europe and attended the Atlanta Falcons’ training camp.


Fujitsu filled half of the eight places alloted for offensive linemen, with All X-League guard Shun Mochizuki and tackle Yutaro Kobayashi joined by tackle Akira Katsuyama and guard Tetsuya Saita.


Similarly, the secondary has a decidedly Obic tinge, with four Seagulls—Keizaburo Isogawa, Kento Tojo, Masahi Fujimoto and Takeshi Miyake—all making the cut.


The team will practice at Fujitsu Kawasaki Stadium both this weekend and next, with a special ceremony open to the fans on June 27 before practice. All practices except for on June 28 are open to the public.


—Ken Marantz for the X-League




Quarterbacks: Tetsuo Takata (Panasonic), Shohei Kato (Lixil)

Running Backs: Ryo Takagi (IBM), Takuya Furutani (Obic), Kosuke Kamiyama (Fujitsu), Taku Lee (Keio University)

Wide Receivers: Takashi Kurihara (IBM), Yuta Hayashi (Asahi Beer), Noriaki Kinoshita (Obic), Shoma Endo (Panasonic), Junpei Yoshimoto (Fujitsu), Katsuya Nagakawa (Lixil), Naoki Maeda (Lixil), Yasuhiro Miyamoto (Lixil)

Tight End: Takahiro Haruta (Fujitsu)

Offensive Linemen: Haruhisa Kurokawa (Asahi Soft Drinks), Takehito Noda (Asahi Soft Drinks), Yusuke Yamamoto (Obic), Akira Katsuyama (Fujitsu), Yutaro Kobayashi (Fujitsu), Tetsuya Saito (Fujitsu), Shun Mochizuki (Fujitsu), Kohei Arai (Lixil)


Defensive Linemen: Takuya Seike (Obic), Shota Tomita (Obic), Munekazu Shikama (Panasonic), Yasuo Wakisaka (Panasonic), Ryota Takahashi (Fujitsu), Motoyuki Hirai (Fujitsu), Toru Hirasawa (Lixil), Mitsunori Kihira (unattached)

Linebackers: Yo Sawada (Obic), Masayoshi Tsukada (Obic), Shoichiro Suzuki (Fujitsu), Shuhei Takeuchi (Fujitsu), Kensuke Amaya (Lixil)

Defensive Backs: Kenzaburo Isagawa (Obic), Kento Tojo (Obic), Masashi Fujimoto (Obic), Takeshi Miyake (Obic), Ryohei Imanishi (Panasonic), Atsushi Tsuji (Panasonic), Yuki Ishii (Fujitsu), Atsushi Fujita (Fujitsu)

Special Teams

Kicker/Punter: Shintaro Saeki (Panasonic)