IBM Big Blue 63 - 0 Dentsu Club Caterpillars
The Kevin Craft era got off to a rocky start with the former UCLA QB throwing an incomplete pass and an interception in his first two plays.
That was just a minor hiccup though and last season's JXB finalists proceeded to steamroll the newly promoted Caterpillars.
Dentsu, playing in X1 for the first time, had several former IBM players in their ranks but were outclassed from start to finish.
Big Blue star TE John Stanton looked in mid-season form as he streaked down the left sideline, made a fantastic over the shoulder catch, then outran everyone on a 73 yard TD
Before last season's Japan X Bowl, IBM's secondary was privately identified by some Fujitsu players as a weakness that could be targeted, and so it proved in the championship game.
After that shellacking IBM's management vowed to do what it took to push the team past the Frontiers. They took a giant step in that direction and killed two birds with one stone by stealing Thom Kaumeyer away from their rivals.
Kaumeyer, who takes over as Defensive Coordinator spent three seasons in the NFL with the Giants and Seahawks and was also a secondary coach in that league.
The back end did well in their first game under his tutelage allowing just 79 yards in the air with DB Shogo Nakatane picking off two passes and returning one for a score.
Dentsu quarterbacks on the day combined for a passer rating of just 35.4. Craft by contrast, despite the early interception, finished with a rating of 256.2 and 2TDs. Yuki Masamoto who figures to see a more prominent role this year tossed another three scores.
IBM have a relatively soft opening to the Pearl Bowl and will face another Battle 9 side in their second game. With no team in group D showing much, a place in the final for a third straight season seems very likely for Big Blue.
- John Gunning: April 21st 2018