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TOP > Game Report > Gordon named MVP; Jackson sets record with 10th All X-League honor

Game Report

Gordon named MVP; Jackson sets record with 10th All X-League honor




Running back Gino Gordon, who helped lead Fujitsu to their first-ever X-League title, has been named the league MVP, and was one of nine Frontiers selected for the All-League Class of 2014.


Gordon, a former Ivy League star out of Harvard in his second season in Japan, distinguished himself with an impressive combination of speed and power in completing a clean sweep of MVP awards — he was also named the top player of the Japan X Bowl and Rice Bowl.


“The league MVP is a great honor in any situation, but it is special in this occasion because it was directly related to winning our first national championship,” Gordon said in an e-mail to the X-League website. “Winning the championship was the biggest honor any player could ever get. This MVP award was due to the great efforts of our team in all phases of the game — offense, defense, special teams.”


Gordon, said he never envisioned having an MVP season when his preparations were delayed due to a shoulder separation suffered in the Pearl Bowl final in the spring.


“But I completely expected our team to win the championship because our team worked so hard and fought to improve everyday,” said Gordon, who particularly stood out in the Japan X Bowl, in which he rushed for four touchdowns in a 44-10 win over the IBM Big Blue. “I had confidence in their abilities and players and competitors.”


Fujitsu quarterback Colby Cameron, a key addition to a team that had lost in four previous trips to the championship game, was named the Rookie of the Year. An award-winning QB at Louisiana Tech and one-time NFL prospect, he also was named to the All-League team after throwing for 24 touchdowns and 2,239 yards in nine games.


“Colby obviously brought our offense to another level,” Gordon said. “His playing ability, football IQ and personal drive helped lead this team. In regards to offensive balance, his presence changed how defenses played us because he was so much of a threat to run and pass.”


Last year’s MVP, Noriaki Kinoshita of the Obic Seagulls, became just the second player in league history to earn double honors, earning selection for the third time as a wide receiver and first as a kick returner.


Obic filled eight positions, including defensive end Kevin Jackson, who was selected for a record 10th time. Jackson, a former league MVP out of Hawaii University, has been named every season since coming to Japan.


Cameron’s favorite target, wide receiver Teruaki Clark Nakamura, capped a breakout season in which he caught 39 passes for 746 yards and 15 touchdowns — all tops in the league — by being selected for the first time in his fourth season.


Two members of the offensive line who provided the holes for Gordon to run through and the protection for Cameron, guard Shun Mochizuki and tackle Yutaro Kobayashi, also made the team. It was the second time in a row and third overall of Kobayashi, while Mochizuki was a first-time selection.


On defense, Fujitsu is represented by linebacker Shoichiro Suzuki for the fourth time and defensive backs Al-Rilwan Adeyami for the second year and first-time pick Shinya Miki, who had two interceptions in the Japan X Bowl, one of which he returned for a touchdown.


The Frontiers’ kicker Hidetetsu Nishimura was chosen for the third time.


Linebacker Mutsumi Takahashi, a full-time college coach who ended a short retirement and helped lead the Elecom Kobe Finies to their first-ever West Division championship, became the team’s first-ever All-League selection.


The 37-year-old Takahashi, who packs formidible power in his 1.67-meter frame, previously played for Fujitsu, Asahi Soft Drinks and Obic, mainly as a wide receiver.  He also had a stint playing in the Arena Football League in the United States.


“I have played in the X-League for 15 seasons,” Takahashi said at the award ceremony. “I have grown not only as a player but as a person. I think that is what led me to receive this award.”


Conversely, this year marked the first time in the 15-year history of selecting an All-League team that the Panasonic Impulse, who had a run of five straight West titles ended, did not have a player selected.


The Lixil Deers, who defeated Obic for the Central Division title, had three players selected — defensive lineman Shohei Suzuki for the third time, punter Daisuke Aoki for the fourth time and linebacker Kenjiro Odate for the first time.


League runner-up IBM put two players on the squad in tight end John Stanton, who was named for the second straight year, and newcomer James Brooks at defensive end.


Brooks, a professional hip-hop artist and former Arizona State starter who tormented opposing offenses with his speed and power, delivered his most famous hit when he knocked Cameron out of the Japan X Bowl with a tackle just before halftime. Cameron did not return, nor did he play in the Rice Bowl victory over Kwansei Gakuin University.


Other Seagulls selected were: first-time offensive picks guard Yusuke Yamamoto and running back Takuto Hara, and defensive lineman Shota Tomita for the second time and defensive backs Takeshi Miyake (fourth time) and Keizaburo Isagawa (first).


For Kinoshita and the other Seagulls, the honors were little consolation in a season in which their three-year hold on both the league and national titles came to end with a 27-17 loss in the semifinals to Fujitsu.


“The 2014 season is one with remaining regrets,” Kinoshita said on the Obic website. “Not content with just being selected, I will also keep working to raise my game another level.”


The others chosen were Nojima Sagamihara Rise center Derek Faavi, who was also picked in 2011, and Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers guard Haruhisa Kurokawa, previously a 2012 selection.



Most Valuable Player

Gino Gordon, RB, Fujitsu


Rookie of Year

Colby Cameron, QB, Fujitsu


All-League Class of 2014


Center: Derek Faavi, Nojima (2)

Guards: Shun Mochizuki (1), Fujitsu; Yusuke Yamamoto, Obic (1)

Tackles: Haruhisa Kurokawa, Asahi Soft Drinks (2); Yutaro Kobayashi, Fujitsu (3)

Tight End: John Stanton, IBM (2)

Wide Receivers: Teruaki Clark Nakamura, Fujitsu (1), Noriaki Kinoshita, Obic (3)

Running Backs: Takuto Hara, Obic (1); Gino Gordon, Fujitsu (1)

Quarterback: Colby Cameron, Fujitsu (1)


Linemen: Shota Tomita, Obic (2); Shuhei Suzuki, Lixil (3); Kevin Jackson (10), Obic;

James Brooks, IBM (1)

Linebackers: Shoichiro Suzuki, Fujitsu (4); Kenjiro Odate, Lixil (1);

Mutsumi Takahashi, Elecom Kobe (1)

Defensive Backs: Al-Rilwan Adeyami, Fujitsu (2); Shinya Miki, Fujitsu, (1);

Takeshi Miyake, Obic (4); Keizaburo Isagawa, Obic (1)


Kicker: Hidetetsu Nishimura, Fujitsu (3)

Punter: Daisuke Aoki, Kajima (5)*

Returner: Noriaki Kinoshita, Obic (1)


Fair Play Award: Hurricanes

Cheerleaders of the Year: Fujitsu Frontierettes


Number in parentheses indicates times selected.

*-Aoki named in 2011 as kicker.