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TOP > What’s New > Panasonic QB Anderson named MVP; Impulse, Frontiers lead All X-League selections with 7 each

What’s New

Panasonic QB Anderson named MVP; Impulse, Frontiers lead All X-League selections with 7 each


Panasonic quarterback Ben Anderson, shown running for a touchdown in the playoff quarterfinal victory over All Mitsubishi, was named MVP of the 2017 season. (photo by MI Planning)




Panasonic QB Anderson named MVP; Impulse, Frontiers lead All X-League selections with 7 each

By Ken Marantz



TOKYO (Nov. 28)—With quarterback Ben Anderson at the helm, the Panasonic Impulse emerged from the regular season as the lone undefeated team. For his exploits in his second stint in Japan with a second team, Anderson was named the league’s Most Valuable Player for 2017.


Anderson, who played for the Nojima Sagamihara Rise in 2015, stood out as a duel threat in both passing and running. He had no interceptions while completing 45 of 78 passes for 610 yards and six touchdowns, while his 513 rushing yards on 65 carries ranked him second in the league. He also scored seven touchdowns on the ground.


Obic Seagulls running back Taku Lee, out of Keio University, was selected as the Rookie of the Year after rushing for 268 yards and one touchdown on 51 carries. He also had a 54-yard touchdown run in Obic’s 41-22 victory over Nojima in the playoff quarterfinals.


Anderson had his first two interceptions of the season in last Sunday’s 31-24 semifinal loss to the IBM BigBlue in the Japan X Bowl Tournament, but the 192-centimeter product of Arkansas-Pine Bluff pledged to Impulse fans he will make amends next year.


“First, I would like to thank our loyal fans for supporting us this entire season,” Anderson said in a statement through the team. “I apologize for not completing the season as we planned, but we will come back stronger and more focused next year.


“Next, I would like to thank the X-League committee for giving me this award,” he added. “I know it was not an easy decision. Lastly, I would not be able to receive this award without the hard work of my offensive linemen. Especially [center] Edmond Davis, who encouraged me to play for Panasonic.”


In a rare occurrence, Anderson was named the MVP, but was not selected as the quarterback on the All X-League Class of 2017. That honor went to his replacement at Nojima, Devin Gardner, who shined in his second season by leading the league with 1,286 passing yards and 16 touchdowns. He completed 91 of 153 passes with seven interceptions, and also ran for 425 yards and eight touchdowns on 60 carries.


Still, Panasonic, which closed the regular season with successive victories over the defending champion Fujitsu Frontiers, Obic Seagulls and Rise to finish 6-0, was well represented on the All X-League team, tying with Fujitsu with seven selections each.


Overall, six teams had players selected to fill the 25 spots, with Obic having five named and IBM, Nojima and Lixil having two each. Of the 25 honorees, seven are first-time selections, while 16 are repeat winners from 2016.


The awards will be presented at the Japan X Bowl on Dec. 18 at Tokyo Dome, where Fujitsu will face IBM. Fujitsu, playing in the championship game for an unprecedented fifth year in a row, will be aiming for its second straight title and third overall, while IBM will try to win its first in its second appearance.


Panasonic guard Tomoaki Sakaguchi and defensive lineman Carlton Jones were among the newcomers to the list. Joining Gardner in earning selection for the first time was his main target, wide receiver Yuhei Yagi, who led the league with 39 receptions for 518 yards and 10 touchdowns.


Two members of the Obic defense were honored for the first time in their careers. Defensive lineman Hiroaki Nakazato, often overshadowed by American defensive ends Kevin Jackson and B.J. Beatty, was rewarded for a standout season, along with linebacker Takuya Iwamoto.


The other newcomer was Lixil running back Yuki Shirakami, who shined in his first season with the Deers after four seasons with the Asahi Soft Drinks Challengers. He gained 459 yards on 71 carries and scored five touchdowns, but particularly left his mark by scoring the winning TD in the Deers’ 27-26 come-from-behind victory over IBM.


The other defensive line spots went to Panasonic’s David Motu and IBM’s James Brooks, making both four-time recipients.


For Brooks, winning the award in each of his four years in Japan shows he is making the contribution to the success of the team that he expects of himself.


“I feel like once I don’t get that reward, then I’m done playing,” Brooks said. “Individually, it doesn’t really matter that much. The championship is all that really matters. For me, when I get going, our whole defense gets going. They feed off my energy, so it’s something I need to do. I expect that of myself.”


Fujitsu cornerback Al-Rilwan Adeyami made it five straight years since coming to Japan, while linebacker Trashaun Nixon was named for the second straight year.


Two members of the Panasonic secondary were named, with cornerback Emory Polley being selected for the second year in a row and safety Atsushi Tsuji returning to the team after being picked in 2010 and 2015.


Obic cornerback Masashi Fujimoto was selected for the third straight year and fifth time overall, while Lixil linebacker Kensuke Amaya added this year’s honor to the one he received in 2015.


Joining Shirakami in the backfield was Fujitsu’s Gino Gordon, who was picked for the third time in his career. Gordon led all rushers with 605 yards on 72 carries, with one of his three touchdowns going for career-long 97 yards against the Challengers.


Fujitsu wide receiver Teruaki Clark Nakamura, second to Yagi with 470 yards on 27 receptions with six touchdowns, also become a three-time winner, while IBM tight end John Stanton (30 receptions, 454 yards,  5 touchdowns) was named for the fourth time.


Davis earned praise not only from Anderson when he was selected as the top center for the third time. Fujitsu tackle Yutaro Kobayashi became a six-time selection and guard Shun Mochizuki made it for the fourth time. Filling out the offensive line was Obic tackle Kai Maiava, now a three-time winner.


The three special teams players were all repeats from 2016. Fujitsu kicker Hidetetsu Nishimura was named for the fourth straight year and sixth overall; Panasonic punter Shintaro Saeki made it three in a row; and Obic kick returner Noriaki Kinoshita became a three-time selection at that position, having previously been named three times as a wide receiver.



Most Valuable Player

Ben Anderson, QB, Panasonic Impulse


Rookie of the Year

Taku Lee, RB, Obic Seagulls


X-League Class of 2017


Center: Edmond Davis, Panasonic (3)

Guards: Shun Mochizuki, Fujitsu (4); Tomoaki Sakaguchi, Panasonic (1)

Tackles: Yutaro Kobayashi, Fujitsu (6); Kai Maiava, Obic (3)

Tight End: John Stanton, IBM (4)

Wide Receivers: Teruaki Clark Nakamura, Fujitsu (3); Yuhei Yagi, Nojima (1)

Running Backs: Gino Gordon, Fujitsu (3); Yuki Shirakami, Lixil (1)

Quarterback: Devin Gardner, QB, Nojima (1)


Defensive Line: David Motu, Panasonic (3); Hiroaki Nakazato, Obic (1); James Brooks, IBM (4); Carlton Jones, Panasonic (1)

Linebackers: Trashaun Nixon, Fujitsu (2); Kensuke Amaya, Lixil (2); Takuya Iwamoto, Obic (1)

Defensive Backs: Al-Rilwan Adeyami, Fujitsu (5); Masashi Fujimoto, Obic (5); Emory Polley, Panasonic (2); Atsushi Tsuji, Panasonic (3)


Kicker: Hidetetsu Nishimura, Fujitsu (6)

Punter: Shintaro Saeki, Panasonic (3)

Returner: Noriaki Kinoshita, Obic (3)*

Note: Number in parentheses indicates times selected. *–Kinoshita previously selected three times as wide receiver.


Fair Play Award

Tokyo Metropolitan Police Dept. Eagles


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