Disclaimer: Any original characters are property of me and myself only. Eyeshield 21 is a series created by Riichigo Inagaki and Yusuke Murata. All characters of Eyeshield 21 are property of the original creators, Shonen Jump and Viz Media. Any references to the NFL and its players are copyrighted by the NFL and credited to their respective teams.
Monsters of Deimon
Chapter 27: Clash of the Titans
"We are here in Chikyuu Stadium to bring you coverage of this day's Annual American Football Tournament sponsored by American Football Monthly Magazine and Tokyo Broadcasting Station. I am your host with the rapid fire mouth, Machine Gun Sanada!" shouted a hyperactive man in a pink shirt with blade-like hair. "Joining me in the booth is the ever informative and lead writer for American Football Monthly, Kumabukuro-san!"
"Good afternoon, everyone," said the afro writer.
"In today's broadcast we are featuring two wild matches to determine who will face each other in the Western Conference championship. The first match today features a pair of rambunctious teams who have fought hard to get to this level. The height-savvy Poseidon of Kyoshin Academy and the Devil Bats of Deimon Private High. Both teams have proved themselves to be excellent competitors on both sides of the ball. Kumabukuro-san, can you give the viewers more details?"
He nodded and flipped to his notebook. "Both teams are good. The Poseidon have a heavy pass offense lead by senior quarterback Kobanzame Osamu-kun who has yet to throw a single interception this entire tournament. Their West Coast style of play relies on short passes to wide receivers and running backs and gaining yards after the catch. Their strong point lies in their defense of freshman players lead by Kakei Shun-kun, a transfer from America where he started playing American Football. They use an unorthodox defense called the 3-4 which swaps the normal number of linemen with linebackers and vice verse. Their key player is Mizumachi Kengo-san, once a middle school National Champion in swimming who now plays linebacker and offensive tackle."
"And what about the tournament Dark Horse, the Deimon Devil Bats? Your thoughts on them?"
"Deimon has already established themselves as one of the strongest teams in Tokyo in a span of one year of their creation. Their offense lead by Eyeshield 21 and Hiruma-kun is possibly more potent than the Seibu Wild Gunmen, although their point spread does not reflect such statistics as they depend mostly on runs by Eyeshield 21. Defense is another story. The appropriately named Monsters of Deimon lead by the Samurai Linebacker Ayasegawa Riku-dono holds top rank in all defensive statistics especially against the run, total sacks and turnovers. Only the Oujo White Knights hold the top rank in points allowed as no team has yet to score on them."
"And how do these two teams match up and what must they do to take a victory in this match?"
"Kyoshin's offense will have a tough time against the pass rush of Deimon and their 46 Zone Blitz package. In order to succeed they must protect the quarterback; don't make rushed decisions and protect the football. Take what the defense gives you and work the play action pass. The offense is packed with experienced seniors and they have to use all their knowledge if they want to hold back this young team of freshman."
"Deimon has a talent on both sides of the ball, especially in their underrated wide receivers. However, get the ball to Eyeshield 21. He's their best weapon as a running back and a dump-off option when Hiruma is pressured in the pocket. Get this guy into open space and we'll see six on the board in no time. But they must get a body on Kakei Shun-kun. His level of play is on par with Ayasegawa Riku-dono and they both know how each others philosophies."
"So, today will be a battle of defenses, correct?"
"That's exactly what it is, Sanada-san."
"And there you have it ladies and gentlemen. A battle of epic proportions is going to get underway. We'll take you down to the field for the coin toss."
Riku stood with Hiruma on the sideline waiting for the head official to call them to the middle of the field. Given their signal, Riku held back his blonde friend when only a single Poseidon player walked toward the official. "Stay back. I'm going at this alone." With that he dawned his helmet and jogged away.
Hiruma narrowed his eyes. "We want the ball, fucking foreigner."
If he had heard him he chose to ignore it. Riku met with the official and stood against Shun Kakei, his friend and rival. Within 12 months they have met in a game for the fourth time as opposing players at the high school level. From an outsider's point of view if this story became known, one would believe that these two were destined to become rivals until the day they pass from this life. They challenged each other in every sport with neither being the dominant over the other; their rivalry stemming to sports teams at all levels of play. Only now in their teenaged years do they face each other as equals, using their teammates as their weapons as they command their defenses to stop the opposing team from scoring.
"Players, bow!" came the commanded the white-cap official. They faced him and did as instructed followed by a repeat toward each other. He held out a coin with an image of Buddha on one side and a football on the other. "The side that represents Buddha will be heads. Poseidon, you are considered the visiting team and it is your choice. Heads or tails."
Kakei's stare never left Riku's eyes. "Heads." The coin flipped into the air.
"It is heads! Poseidon, what is your choice?"
"We choose to receive the ball." Riku narrowed his eyes. "We'll see who scores first, Ayasegawa-kun."
The official turned to Riku. "Deimon, do you wish to defend the North or South field first?"
"North." He licked his lips. "Be careful what you wish for. You might run out of receivers and quarterbacks really fast."
"Poseidon has decided to receive the ball and Deimon will kick off. Poseidon will receive the ball with the South end zone to their backs," the white-cap announced. "Players bow! Return to your sidelines and await the signal from the other officials."
"You won't score on this drive, Ayasegawa!" Kakei shouted as the noise level from the crowds quickly rose.
"But we're scoring first, Kakei! You better believe it. We'll score, even if I have to do it myself!"
"Welcome back to Chikyuu Stadium for our broadcast of this year's Tokyo Area American Football Tournament sponsored by American Football Monthly. For all the best news and stats on your favorite high school, college and professional teams, and from teams across the sea in American, check out their new website at American Football Monthly dot com. I'm your commentator with the rapid fire mouth, Machine Gun Sanada! I'm joined by American Football Monthly analyst and head write Kumabukuro. For those of you just tuning in we have the Deimon Devil Bats hosting the Kyoshin Poseidon who will receive the opening kick-off after Poseidon's choice of receiving the ball."
"Today we have a new uniform to the dark horse of this year's tournament. Deimon is wearing a new uniform normal reserved for the away away team with reversed colors of white and red instead of the red and white of their normal home jersey. Deimon is considered to be the home team they essentially have the home field advantage over Kyoshin despite being in neutral territory if the number of supporters in the stands indicates anything."
"The officials have given the signal and we're off! Deimon's infamous Musashi starts the kick-off team forward and blast the ball high into the air. A spectacular kick by the legendary 60-yard Magnum! Kyoshin fields the ball and they're immediately stopped before they had a chance to run! Kyoshin will start the ball at their own 5-yard line with their backs to the end zone."
"Deimon was once considered the lowest team, even worse than the Yuuhi Guts only because they are a new team from a school not known for their American Football program. But they showed everyone in their close game against the Oujo White Knights and their defeat of the NASA Aliens that they are one of Tokyo's many powerhouse teams. With the addition of Musashi and Ayasegawa Riku's leadership on defense and special teams, they are now a complete team."
"Kyoshin breaks from their huddle and they line up with two receivers on each side of the line and a single running back in the end zone. Deimon shifts their defense accordingly as Ayasegawa makes the calls. Kyoshin's offense is lead by senior quarterback Kobanzame Osamu-kun. He receives the snap and drops back into the end zone for a pass! He directly challenges Deimon's iron curtain of defense as he fires a pass downfield to his receiver! An amazing play to get them to good field position as Deimon's two-way player Tetsuo Ishimaru tackles his man at the fifteen yard-line. First down, Kyoshin!"
"This is a new style of quarterback Deimon has yet to face. Most of their stronger opponents like NASA, Oujo and Taiyou have quarterbacks who like to stand in the pocket and throw to their receivers. Kyoshin's quarterback, Kobanzame-kun, is similar to Deimon's Hiruma as he can not only throw from the pocket, but scramble out and make a play downfield to an open receiver. A scrambling quarterback."
"Kyoshin, after the first down, line up with five wide receivers and no running backs – three and two on each side with two on the big side of the field. Kobanzame goes down to the snap. Motion from the triple side and Deimon adjusts. The snap goes and he drops back short and fires a quick slant just before Deimon's pass rush reaches him and it's complete to the receiver for a four yard gain. 2nd and Six. Kumabukuro-san, what kind of offense are we seeing out of Kyoshin?"
"Kyoshin has been known for their small players and they use it to their advantage with formations that would utilize their small stature. In other words they spread out the ball and stretch the defense with speed in what is known as the Spread Offense. Multi-receiver formations similar to that of the Wild Gunmen's Run and Shoot offense. It especially takes advantage of Kobanzame-kun's running abilities and his talent of getting rid of the ball to an open receiver. Even with such high risk offense, he has yet to be intercepted in his entire high school career."
"But Deimon has been known to steal the ball at any chance they get and they stack the line as Kyoshin moves to the standard I-formation. Kobanzame receives the snap and hands off to—No! He turns with the ball in his hands and throws deep to his receiver running up the sideline! He's only covered by one man and he jumps for the ball and… batted down by Takiki Shiro at the last second! An incredible heads-up play by the freshman cornerback! Kumabukuro-san, he hit that ball with enough force to send it into the stands."
"Takiki Shiro-kun is a regional volleyball champion from Deimon. Jumping into the air for the ball is second nature to him and being a cornerback fits right into his area of expertise. Not to mention that his height and leaping ability completely overshadows Kyoshin's number one receiver. Expect them to throw to the other side of the field more after seeing that play."
"The crowd rises to their feet and the stands begin to rumble as Kyoshin faces Deimon's favorite time – third down! The Poseidon line up in a Single-Back formation with two receivers to the short side and a single running back off-set to the strong side. Deimon shifts around and their linemen prime themselves for the monstrous pass rush. Kobanzame-kun receives the snap and drops back as his receivers head downfield. The small quarterback suddenly runs as the pocket collapses around him and he's crushed by Deimon's defensive captain Ayasegawa Riku-dono at the 25-yard line. Enough for a first down."
"It was the right defensive call, but they forgot to take into account Kobanzame-kun's running ability. Not as good as a running back, but he has just enough to take advantage of the open space created by his receivers and Riku-dono dropping into coverage to make the first down. Don't plan on that happening again as long as Riku-dono is roaming that middle."
"A change of players takes Kurita-kun and the Kiribashi twins off the field for a breather and they are replaced by the Three Brother's from the offensive line. A strange call by Ayasegawa and Hiruma. What does Deimon have in mind here?"
"They want to keep their players refreshed. By taking a play off this allows the defensive line to stay rested for important downs later in the game."
"Kyoshin lines up with three receivers to one side and two running backs as Kobanzame takes up the Shotgun formation similar to the Wild Gunmen. Deimon adjust with Ayasegawa creeping to the empty side of the field. Kobanzame receives the long snap and fakes a hand-off to his running back. He pumps the ball once, shifts up into the pocket before dumping it off to the running back on the flat. OH NO!!"
"Incredible," Kumabukuro exclaimed with a shocked tone.
"Kobanzame nearly made a costly mistake as he threw the ball underneath to his running back in the flat. He completely missed seeing Ayasegawa-dono as the linebacker cut the path of the ball and nearly intercepted it! If he managed to get a better hand on the ball we would have been talking about a 6-0 lead and a PAT, not 2nd and 10 on the 25."
"Deimon is a stingy defense. You have to earn every yard you gain against them and they will punish you for it. As a quarterback you have to make good decisions or they will make you pay just like what Ayasegawa-dono would have done if he had just two centimeters faster."
"According to statistics Kobanzame-kun has never been intercepted, even against the White Knights. Do you believe it might happen here?" Sanada asks for the viewers.
"If the last play is any indication, then yes. It's only a matter of when it will happen."
Five plays later Kyoshin had pushed Deimon's defense back to their own 47 yard line with 3rd and 14 on the scoreboard thanks to a holding penalty on Kyoshin's linemen. It negated a big play that would have Kyoshin 1st and 10 on Deimon's 35 yard line, but the penalty brought them further back from the original line of scrimmage.
"Ace! Ace! Double, double! Eye spy one! Eye spy one!"
The snarling calls from Riku were all the others needed to get into position. From their 46 Zone defensive formation they spread across the line of scrimmage to cover the four receivers that would threaten their secondary. The line shifted to compensate for the linebacker split out over his man and Riku shifted closer to the line right behind his linemen. The piercing eyes of the samurai locked onto Kobanzame and for just a brief moment he could see the crack of pressure forming into the calm exterior of the senior quarterback.
"Set! Yellow, seven! Yellow! Hu---!"
Riku fired off the line!
Kobanzame received the snap as he saw the middle linebacker blitzing from the outside. He read his receivers and they knew their assignments when they recognized blitz. One of the inside slot receivers cut through the middle on the slant right behind the area the linebacker blitzed and Kobanzame fired off the bullet that would surely hit his receiver in the hands and allow him to make a run for the first down. It was one of their basic emergency plays for situations like this that they have practiced over the past three years. They just didn't expect the same blitzing linebacker to fake his attack on the quarterback and drop back into zone coverage!
Riku went to make another play on the ball but was once again too late! It hit his hands and he couldn't find any way to control the ball as it bounced up into the air ready for anyone to catch. Immediately he turned and chased, shoving the target receiver to the ground as others scrambled to make a play.
"AH HA HA!! My ball!"
Deimon number 37 jumped for the ball and secured it in his hands, a knowing grin forming behind his face mask as he eyes Riku. Unfortunately the Poseidon had other plans as one of their receivers rocked Taki hard as he came down and jostled the ball free. The referee's quickly blew the whistle signaling the incomplete pass.
"Damn it! Impossible!!" growled the blonde safety. He would have made the first score of the game for sure! Ayasegawa patted him on the helmet.
"Good try, Taki. Concentrate on holding onto the ball next time, not running afterward."
Riku whistled. "Souta! It's your show! Punt return three! Three, three!"
The ball was snapped far back to the Poseidon punter and he launched the ball high into the air. Deimon's rushers quickly turned back and began setting up a wall and wedge while Kyoshin streaked down the field to contain and tackle the return man. Waiting patiently for the ball Souta formed a pocket with his arms and fielded it cleanly, almost immediately hopping out of the way of a would-be tackler. Though his defensive play at the safety position is considered the best in Tokyo, he was also respected for his ability to return the ball. He began running down the field, evading tacklers and turning behind his blockers, a white towel tucked in his pants almost purposely taunting defenders. Souta cut back to the opposite direction, nearly crossing the entire field before he was ridden out of bounds at Kyoshin's 42 yard line. Nearly a 50-yard punt return.
Hiruma and Riku tagged out as they switched from off-field to the sideline. "Don't let him make a fool of you." The blonde snorted.
The offense huddled around Hiruma at mid-field with the standard personnel. Komusubi seemed the most eager to get the play going. "They put someone else on offense so that Mizumachi can concentrate on defense. We're going to stick with the original plan and run right at him. We're going to pound it in his face until he can taste the bottom of our spikes! FUCKING KILL THEM!! YA-HA!!"
Deimon lined up in their basic I-formation with Eyeshield 21 as the tail-back. The lines squared off against one another and as expected Komusubi found himself facing off against Mizumachi, one of the many tall players on the Kyoshin defense. A whole week of preparation with the Sumo club, tutoring from Onihei Yamamoto and American style techniques from Riku and Taki had him ready for this match. Repetition after repetition, he knew he now had an edge over the taller player, one he felt confident in.
Mizumachi smirked. "Don't say I didn't warn you," he directed to Deimon's shortest player. "Now that you've come to the match in spite of that height---"
"Mizumachi, you idiot!" Kakei snapped. "Concentrate--- shit! Run, run!"
A quick count on first color, Hiruma received the snap and handed off to Eyeshield 21 to the left. Daikichi fired off the ball like a bullet out of the gun barrel, slamming his hands into Mizumachi's mid-section and driving him back with surprising strength - at least to the Kyoshin freshman genius! The pseudo lineman tried shoving Komusubi off but the Shorty displayed great hand strength holding onto his jersey in the middle of his body and managing to turn him away from the play. The whistle blew a few seconds later after Kakei worked down into the open hole created by Komusubi and tackled Eyeshield 21 after a 3-yard gain.
"This isn't kindergarten, Mizumachi. Don't act like a fool. Keep underestimating opponents and you will quickly find out how weak you really are." Kakei stated in a most harsh tone, even after tackling Eyeshield 21.
"It won't be the same this—" Kakei suddenly shoved him toward the line. "What?!"
"Fire, fire! Two, two! Set, two!" The linebacker shouted as he made signals to the defense. Deimon, after the play quickly lined up on the ball and began to run their next play. "Check fire!"
"Blue, 32! Blue, 32! Set, hut! Hut!"
Sena stepped right, then cut toward the left as he received the ball clean into his grasp. Kuroki and Togano pulled from the right to the left with Tetsuo filling into their positions. His vision caught sight of Komusubi locking onto Mizumachi and he felt a thrill of success as he sped by and around the Taki's sealed edge. The two pulling linemen made their blocks giving Sena a huge lane to pour on the speed. That was only mere thought as the hole was suddenly plugged by Kakei who put a hit on Sena driving him hard to the ground. Only another 3-yard gain. 3rd and 4 on the Kyoshin 38.
"Fire, fire! Red, one! Red, one!" Kakei shouted. He pointed right at Eyeshield 21. "Watch screen!"
Damn it, Hiruma mentally frowned as he received the next snap on first sound. "DOWN!"
The blonde quarterback turned to his right, extending out to Eyeshield 21 on what was to be an isolation play up the middle. He pulled back at the last second, turning and dropping into passing position. Mizumachi came quickly up the middle, Komusubi riding him toward the right instead of left due to the sheer height advantage the taller player had. His eyes narrowed seeing the rest of the play as Eyeshield 21 got into position. The 3-4 Defense was as difficult as Riku said it could be. The three down linemen were much larger and stronger than your normal defensive four front as they clog two holes for their gap control responsibilities. Neither Kurita, the Three Brother's nor Komusubi could get off their blocks to set up the screen. Even if he did toss it to Sena the two other linebackers were shadowing the play waiting for the screen pass. He could risk it and let Sena do his thing or throw for an interception.
He ran out of the pocket and threw the ball as far into the stands as he could. The referee blew the whistle.
"Pass Incomplete. 4th down!"
"Welcome back to the broadcast. After a three and out following with a punt from Deimon's Musashi it's the Poseidon's ball on their own 3-yard line. Deimon seems to have a tendency to pin their opponents deep in their own territory. We might see a big play out of the infamous Monsters of Deimon."
"I believe we will, Sanada-san. Let's look at that last offensive play of Deimon. Hiruma-kun faked the hand off for a play action pass. By the looks of the defense they had read that it would be a screen as you can see Eyeshield 21 is open over here with his back to the defense. But Hiruma saw that the Poseidon would stop the play and made the decision to just throw it away. A great decision by Hiruma and not giving Kyoshin a chance to make a turn over. However, I am curious as to why they punted instead of letting the Legendary Musashi kick for a field goal."
"Maybe Deimon has some sort of plan and it has something to do with Kyoshin's current field position."
Kumabukuro agreed. "Their special teams made an excellent play getting to the ball and fielding it just before it bounced into the end zone. This places Kyoshin in a most vulnerable position with their passing game as each time Kobanzame-kun drops back he risk the possibility of a safety. Even more so with versatile pass rushers like the Kiribashi Twins who force opposing offensive tackles to play against them differently than other teams."
"We'll see what happens as Kyoshin comes to the line with a Big I-Formation – two tight-ends and one wide receiver. Physical football has not been their forte with their tendency to air it out against most opponents. Let's see if they can muscle their way out past Deimon as they stack the line knowing what is coming."
"This is different. Mizumachi-kun is lining up at fullback."
"Mizumachi Kengo-kun. Normally the starting tackle on the offensive side of the ball, did not start on offense in the first series. This is the first time he has played a position other than defensive or offensive line. Kyoshin is looking for power running to free them from the end zone!"
"Kyoshin snaps the ball and Kobanzame-kun hands off to the tail-back. Ouch! That must hurt. The teams surged toward the middle and Mizumachi-kun was hit hard by Ayasegawa-dono allowing Yamaoka-kun to tackle the running back for no gain. 2nd and 10 on the Kyoshin 3." Sanada looked over the replay. "Mizumachi-kun didn't see that coming."
"The linebacker position is one of the most respected on the football field next to quarterback. Their job on running plays, especially in the middle, is to take on those big linemen or fullbacks and stop them from leading a path for their running back. As you see here Riku-dono comes in, plugging the gap Mizumachi-kun plans to lead block and sacrifices his own body to allow his teammates to make a play on the ball. Excellent teamwork by the Devil Bats."
"And on this second down play Kyoshin tries again with power football. Kobanzame starts the count as his sole receiver does into motion from left to right, then left once more. The ball is snapped and he hands off to the running back up the middle behind Mizumachi… and he's stopped just outside the goal line by number 75 on the defensive line! What an amazing play by the defensive tackle Omosadake Futoshi-kun disrupting the play and nearly costing Kyoshin two points and a turnover. Simply amazing this Deimon defense."
"The play starts out as a power off-tackle with the backside guard pulling to the strong side to lead block for the runner as Mizumachi kicks out or attacks the second level. Omosadake-kun, possibly the faster player in terms of attacking off the center's snap, see's this brief opening and attacks the gap before he could be blocked. Another step faster and Kyoshin would have been kicking the ball and down by two points. Like you said, excellent play by Deimon."
Sanada suddenly jumped to his feet and leaned over their booth to stare down at the field.
"A bit of confusion on the field as Deimon suddenly scrambles back to the line… wait! The ball is snapped to Kobanzame-kun and he drops backs for a pass! He has a wide open receiver! The throw!"
The crowd roars with a deafening cheer!
"INTERCEPTION!! And he's down. What an amazing play by the latest edition to the Deimon defense. I can't believe it! The new safety in the secondary, number 37 Taki Natsuhiko-kun, comes out of nowhere and steals the ball out of mid-air with a spectacular one-handed grab. Deimon's ball on the Kyoshin 19-yard line and threatening to score."
"That was an amazing play. Natsuhiko-kun was completely out of position to defend the open receiver, but his instinct and natural ability allowed him to anticipate Kobanzame's throw and he used pure athleticism to make the play on the ball. But this was just a bad throw by Kobanzame-kun; he should have put more air under the ball."
"Taki-kun is still as sharp as ever," snorted an irate Kakei. He looked at Hiroshi Ohira and Hiroshi Onishi, not related, the two tallest players in Japan. "We're going to use Trident Red Go Twist. Red Go Twist. One, two.."
"I got this one, Onishi," said Ohira, a rugged looking young man with thick eyebrows. "I'll show everyone who is Kakei-san's number one disciple."
Onishi, a blonde with square framed glasses, merely snorted. "As if. I'm the tallest player on the team and I should be known as Kakei-san's best disciple."
At 6'8" and 6'7" the two Hiroshi's did little to earn the titles of being the tallest players at Kyoshin, in Japan, or sports in general. Freshman like Kakei and Mizumachi, the both competed with each other after joining the team and learning everything there is about being a linebacker under Kakei's tutelage. They have earned their stripes as being great defenders against the pass and gaining leverage against shorter linemen using their long arms to shed blockers and defend against the run. Their fierce competition against each other has help Kyoshin establish itself as a great defense the last few games.
"Set!" Hiruma began calling his cadence. "Black, 90!"
"This is all me, Ohira! The title of Kakei-san's best disciple is mine!"
Onishi shifted over to his rival's side. "Move over, it's mine! I'm Kakei-san's best disciple!" The target of their arguing shook his head.
"We're in the same year…"
The two rushed in quickly, both striking toward the C and D gaps protected by 53 and 52. As they recognized the blitz and adjusted, Ohira rushing the outside slanted inside while Onishi backed off and rushed the outside, twisting around the inside blitz and coming off the edge like a defensive end. The pair threw their arms in the air as Hiruma reacted to the sudden pressure, ducking and turning, firing the ball off to his only open receiver Eyeshield 21. As the two hit him and drove him to the ground Hiruma failed to see Kakei come on a delayed blitz and hit Eyeshield 21 with a powerful form tackle that drove him into the ground for a 5-yard loss.
"You will not score here, Eyeshield 21. I won't let a ghost make a fool of me. I'll prove to you that you're not worthy of that moniker."
Deimon was successfully stopped cold in the red zone for the first time since they last played against Oujo. The Kyoshin Poseidon defense completely shut down the quick scoring runs of Eyeshield 21 and even forced a fumble when Deimon tried to go for a first down on 4th and short. Deimon answered right back with a shutdown of Kyoshin's Tempest offense, a style of play similar to the West Coast offense relying on short quick passes and receivers that gained yards after the catch. Both teams had to settle for punts and field goals as neither could penetrate into the other's end zone. Not even Hiruma's ability to pull the rabbit out of the hat seemed effected as Shun Kakei showed that his ability to read, reacted and scheme a defense was just as ingenious as his rival Riku Ayasegawa.
This theme continued past half-time and into the 3rd quarter. Each school came out with a new game plan and received minor success but settled for field goals. Throughout this low scoring defensive game the statistics of two offensive players stood out. Osamu Kobanzame was 19 of 28 with 216 yards and three interceptions, the most INTs in any game and the only ones he had ever thrown. Deimon's offensive star was no one other than Eyeshield 21 recording 105 yards on 18 carries, 5 receptions for 28 yards and no touchdowns. Kyoshin managed to stop Eyeshield 21 with stifling consistency on 3rd downs and made him 0 and 2 on 4th down conversions. Though he is over 100 yards rushing, holding the infamous Light Speed Running Back to no score was a feat in of itself.
As the clock wound down to zero, Kyoshin finished the 3rd quarter taking the lead against Deimon.
Kyoshin Poseidon, 9. Deimon Devil Bats, 3.
Shun Kakei felt pleased with himself. They were up by a field goal and the fourth quarter has just begun. Their defense was shutting down Eyeshield 21 and that blonde demon they had at quarterback. He took great pleasure in stopping Eyeshield 21 over and over again knowing that the little man running the ball was nothing more than a dreck, a false replica that took the Eyeshield moniker and tried to make his own name with it. True they allowed him to roll over them for over 100 yards, but what good was yards gained when they couldn't produce a touchdown. Now it was just the right time to put the game away with their current score.
"Huddle up!" He called out to the defense as they gathered at the ball near the line of scrimmage. "We need to stop Deimon completely from here on out. It is time for us to close out this game."
Ohira perked up. "Does that mean…?"
"Mizumachi." Kakei pointed to him. "It is about time for you to join us at the second level. We're switching to the High Wave." The blonde almost literally jumped out of his pants.
"It's about time! We'll win this game and Kobanzame-senpai and everyone can go to the Christmas Bowl." His fist clenched tightly as the energy boost his own determination gave him seemed to wish to burst from his body. "They're going down!"
Deimon trotted up to the line of scrimmage and were faced with a new look. Mizumachi was gone from his position in front of Komusubi and Kurita found himself covered by a large nose tackle. Two defensive ends lined up in the B gaps over Juumonji and Togano. Their game plan was to know where Mizumachi lined up, but they found he moved to a standing position at outside linebacker joining Kakei, Onishi and Ohira to create a towering wall that blocked Hiruma's passing lanes.
"Red, 21! Hut, hut!"
Hiruma dropped back to pass and found the pocket around him collapsing fast! He stepped in to throw down field at an open Taki but pulled back when he saw Kakei Shun covering the flexible tight-end. He stepped away from an attempted grab by one of the defensive linemen and aimed for a now open Yukimitsu, but again he was covered by the corner and one of the two other linebackers. That only left one person unaccounted for… No…!
Mizumachi came free around the corner, slamming into Hiruma and clubbing with his arm knocking the ball out of his hand. Players scrambled for the ball in a flurry of bodies but Deimon manage to recover. 2nd and 15.
The Deimon huddle was just as shocked as everyone else watching the shift of game play from the Kyoshin. "This is getting fucking annoying," Hiruma growled scaring the smaller players of the team. "Eyeshield 21, take care of that Mizumachi."
"B-but I don't think—"
"Just do it!"
"We're going to go with a pass…"
Back in Kyoshin's huddle: "They're going to pass again." Kakei smirked. They had almost completely abandoned trying to run the ball and with time ticking away and their position on the field, running down the clock with Eyeshield 21 was just a complete waste. They might as well just hand Kyoshin the game. "Red rocket! Red rocket!"
The Poseidon countered Deimon's single-back formation with their 3-4, shifting the line to the strong side and placing Mizumachi on the weak side away from the tight-end. One of the two safeties covered the slot receiver giving the indication of a false nickel formation. "Pass, pass!" Onishi shouted. "Watch pass!"
"Blue dog one!" Mizumachi yelled. "Dog one!"
"Green, 19! Green… 19! Set!"
The lines clashed as both Kakei and Mizumachi blitzed. Hiruma dropped back deep and pump faked toward Yukimitsu, turning his head and looking for Monta or Taki open on deep fly routes. He stepped into the pocket as Sena moved up to engage Mizumachi. The blonde former swim star barreled toward Hiruma with the intent to deal a major blow against the Devil Bats. The short running back saw time seem to slow down as the titan approached, growling and snarling with eyes focused on his main objective. He ignored Sena and that hit a nerve within the former gopher. Seeing that he was at a complete disadvantage he remembered the advice Riku gave him during pass blocking.
If you're facing someone bigger that you know you can't stop, lower your shoulder and attack!
He dove for Mizumachi's legs. He submarined him!
Kengo Mizumachi found himself on the wrong end of a cut block as he felt the hit, tumbled forward ass over end and landed square on his back behind Eyeshield 21. The crowd cheered at Eyeshield's block and Hiruma's successful throw to the open Monta for a 10-yard gain. 3rd and 5.
"Ugh… that was dirty…" he muttered as he stood. The play was over and Deimon called a timeout to preserve what time they had remaining on the clock. "Kakei said Eyeshield 21 was a great player. This just proves that a shrimp like you isn't the real thing." He looked toward the sideline where Kobanzame and all the seniors on the offense stood watching the game. "We have a goal to attain. Guys like you and those other shrimps are only juniors and freshmen like us new guys. You guys have next year while this is our seniors last year!"
"Don't give me that…" Sena whispered. His fists clenched into a pair of tight balls straining against his gloves. "Next year… next year… is that all you can say? Kurita-san, Hiruma-san, Musashi-san and all the other second year players… this is their last year too!!!"
"Eyeshield 21 is only moniker given to me by my peers and the media. I'm not that running back from Notre Dame. But if you want to see an Eyeshield 21 that badly… then I'll show you this Eyeshield 21."
"And how is a little wimp like you going to do that?" taunted the taller player. Kakei had enough.
"Mizumachi! That's enough! Get back---" Sena cut him off.
A failed 3rd down conversion put the ball back into Kyoshin's hands after a powerful punt from Musashi. The Monsters of Deimon took to the field once more and faced off against a determined Poseidon offense. Eyeshield 21's challenge was met by a rejuvenated Tempest Offense with Kobanzame pulling out all the stops and holding nothing back.
"Trips, right! Right! Trips!" Riku shouted, shifting the entire defense to cover the three eligible receivers to the right side of the field. He began twisting his arm around above his head to signal the secondary. "Watch screen!"
Kobanzame received the snap and his trip of receivers criss-crossed into their routes to confuse the defense. The defensive line put their top class pressure pass rush upon the Kyoshin quarterback coming in faster than before. Kobanzame stepped up before scrambling to the left looking down field for an open receiver. As one of the Kiribashi twins near him within a hair's width, he turned and dumped off the ball to an open receiver hiding behind a wall of linemen.
Linebackers were swallowed up by the blocking linemen as the receiver ran the ball up field. He shrugged off a sure tackle by Shiro Takiki and continued further downfield before he was caught by Taki and shoved out of bounds at the Deimon 25 yard line. A 25-yard pitch and catch that brought the crowd to their feet and put Kyoshin in scoring position for a field goal.
"We have to hold them here!" Riku snapped at the defense. "Hold onto your assignments and we can get this ball back into the offense' hands. It's do or die right now. Go after these guys like a bunch of crazed dogs! Bear White Fire. One, two, three…"
Two wide receivers to each side Deimon lined up in their 46 Zone defense with players spread out to cover each receiver. As Kyoshin began shifting to account the expected pass rush and blitzing linebackers, Taki began creeping up to the line of scrimmage showing Kyoshin a completely open secondary undefended by any Deimon player.
"Check, check! White, seven! White! Set, hut! Hut!"
Kobanzame dropped back for the pass, pumping toward the left side before he turned to the right. The safeties never came nor did the linebackers showing blitz as he saw them all drop back into coverage. What he didn't see was Shiro Takiki slamming into him from the back or Tetsuo Ishimaru sandwiching him from the front sending him down to the ground hard. "…c-corner… blitz…" he muttered as he struggled to stand. The two Deimon cornerbacks high-fived each other as the trotted back to the huddle.
"Wow! Even I didn't see you blitz, Ishimaru-senpai," said Souta when he stood next to his sempai. "It's like you weren't even there." Tetsuo sweated.
"Yeah. I get that a lot… I guess."
Riku whistled for their attention. "Devil Soft Zone 4. That's you Souta and Itachi."
Kyoshin's quarterback looked really shaken up as he stood in the shotgun formation, two receivers spread on one side and three others bunched on the short side. His vision from his solo position in the backfield revealed Deimon in a 4-3 formation with linebackers and a corner spread out to defend the bunch. The free safety shifted to the bunch side and the strong safety moved up to defend the slot receiver to the spread side. He saw that Ayasegawa guy lined up away from the bunch showing he would either spy him or cover a zone. He didn't even want to think of a possible blitz.
"Set! Hut, hut!"
Deimon crashed its line toward the bunch and he caught the shotgun snap, stepping back a few yards. Number 99 was in pass coverage? "Blitz!" He shouted scrambling toward the bunch side as number 23 followed in hot pursuit. He pumped the ball toward his dump-off receiver and was thankful he didn't release as one of the linebackers moved to jump the route. One of his receivers signaled downfield and he threw with all his strength while on the run watching as the ball soared downfield. His man was open and if he concentrated this would be a sure score!
"It's the idiot!" someone from the stands shouted in surprise.
Number 37 closed in quickly from outside of Kobanzame's vision, leaping high into the air and batting the ball away from his receiver's hands! The referee running with the ball put his whistle to his mouth and put into motion the signal for the incomplete pass but Taki, in a surprising feat of agility and skill in finding the ball, he stretched out his arm and body to secure an impossible interception! The official, stopped himself, shocked at what he just witnessed before his very eyes, but he shook himself out of his stupor and blew the whistle to stop the clock as he marked where the Deimon player landed. Jogging up to the player, he turned toward the opposite side of the field and signaled.
"Deimon ball! 1st and 10 on the Deimon 2-yard line!"
"This is why he is both praised as a tight-end and defensive back," Kumabukuro explained to Machine Gun Sanada in the booth atop the stadium seating. "His flexibility allows him to gain favorable position against blockers and reach for the ball where defenders cannot. This even applies to his safety position let him gain position over opposing receivers to defend the pass. Kobanzame-kun misjudged or just completely forgot about Taki Natsuhiko-kun."
"With less than five minutes remaining on the clock the Deimon Devil Bats have regained possession of the ball on their own 2-yard line with a 98-yard stretch of the field and a looming Poseidon defense ready to deliver a swift blow with their new defensive formation," exclaimed the motor-mouth announcer.
Kumabukuro agreed. "With their backs to their own end zone, Eyeshield 21 will have to line up deep into their own end zone. A mistake here could cost them two or six points."
"Power offense from the Devil Bats as they line up with defensive players to form a goal line formation with Eyeshield 21 as the I-back. Quick count and Hiruma hands it to Eyeshield 21 for a run up the middle. He's stopped after a short gain – 2nd and 7. Mizumachi-kun on the tackle, but Eyeshield-san barely escaped a sure tackle by one of the other outside linebackers Ohira Hiroshi. He's one of the tallest high school athletes in the Nation with Onishi Hiroshi, his teammate, being the second."
"I spoke with them briefly. Not the brightest bunch but they are very physically gifted for their age."
"Shotgun formation this time for the Devil Bats. Slot receiver to the right and tight-end lined up on the line to the left. Eyeshield 21 off-set to the tight-end side – 2nd and 7. Here's the snap and Hiruma looks… then hands off to Eyeshield 21 to runs up the middle on a draw! He's stopped just short of the first down marker at the 11-yard line. Officials will stop the clock to measure but it looks like we'll have 3rd and 1 on the 11. And Deimon stays on the fast pace quickly lining up with their same personnel in the Big I-Formation, Raimon-kun the lone receiver on the short side. A hard count by Hiruma-kun and nearly draws Poseidon offside. The ball is snapped and a hand-off to Eyeshield 21 who dives over the pile for a first down."
"Deimon normally reserves this play they call the Devil Bat Dive for scoring situations at the goal line. Using it here in such a risky situation shows they are pulling all the stops to win this game and keep the clock moving. A risky move for Deimon who is down by six points."
"Officials move the chains as the teams line up and wait for the officials whistle. 1st and 10 on the 13-yard line in Deimon territory. Off-set I-form by Deimon as Poseidon shows blitz and stacks the line of scrimmage. Here's the snap and Hiruma-kun hands off — no; a play-action fake to Eyeshield 21 as he drops back for a pass. He looks and fires a ball down the middle. It's caught by Eyeshield and he carries the ball 2-yards after the catch for a total of seven on the play. 2nd and 3."
Kumabukuro cleared his throat. "So far Eyeshield-kun has touched the ball on every play. Maybe his confrontation earlier with Mizumachi-kun has something to do with this. They can stop him, but they can't prevent him from making a positive play. Little by little this is going to wear down Kyoshin."
"An Empty backfield with a bunch to the wide-size and two receivers to the short. A new formation from the mind of Hiruma-kun as he somewhat mimics Kyoshin's Tempest offense. A hard count and he drops back after the snap as his receivers fan out like the bucks from a shotgun. A shovel pass to Eyeshield 21 behind the line and no one is covering him! He turns past his blockers and speeds past a defender before he's taken down extremely hard by Kakei-kun; Poseidon's defensive Captain."
"Even we heard that hit from up here."
"They just ran five plays and the clock is close to the three minute mark. 1st and 10 on the Deimon 32-yard line and the Devil Bats are driving the Poseidon defensive downfield that started from their own 2-yard line. Off-set I-formation to the weak side with Raimon-kun in the slot away from the tight-end. The ball is snapped and tossed to Eyeshield. He carries the ball to the outside, cuts back and is swarmed by Kyoshin defenders… Kami-sama! He somehow breaks free from what was a sure tackle and slips up field for positive yardage before being taken down again by Kakei-kun. 2nd and 2 on their own 40-yard line."
"This is exactly what makes Eyeshield-kun dangerous. Teams take for granted the size of the player. He's too short. He's too skinny. He's not strong enough. Eyeshield-kun has show us and the world that his speed is enough to change an entire game. And now he's showing that he does have physical toughness taking on strong tacklers such as Kyoshin's Kakei-kun and Mizumachi-kun and making something out of nothing."
"Right you are, Kumabukuro-san. Deimon milks the time from the clock as the lazily break their huddle and line-up. Three receivers with Taki-kun lined up as the slot receiver to the short side. Split backs with Eyeshield to the open side. This maybe be a run considering the yards needed for a first down. Quick count by Hiruma-kun and he drops back for a pass. He looks, pumps toward a wide-open Taki but pulls back. He rifles a low bullet downfield and hits Eyeshield 21 in stride! 45… 40! And he's taken down by Mizumachi-kun at the Kyoshin 38-yard line! An amazing play by Deimon and even more spectacular catch by Eyeshield 21."
"Looking at this play you see Raimon-kun and Manabu-kun clearing out the corners with their deep hook routes and Taki-kun running an outside fade. This clears out this section of the field to allow Eyeshield-kun to run a fake out pattern and take the fly option route through this open section. A perfect example of the right play for the right time."
"They line up again in the Split formation. Two receivers to the right with the tight-end on the short side to the left. Motion by Raimon-kun and Kyoshin piles the line of scrimmage. The ball is snapped and Hiruma-kun is immediately pressured as Kyoshin brings the house! He's quickly taken down by the multi-talented Mizumachi-kun and manages to secure the ball to prevent the turnover. They chance the all-out blitz and it worked."
"We compared Kyoshin's Kakei-kun to Ayasegawa-dono earlier. They both were known rivals and their interviews confirmed that they knew each other and grew up together in America. It should be expected that their defensive philosophies would be similar."
"2st and 15. I-formation off-set to the strong side. Hiruma receives the snap and hands off to Eyeshield to takes the ball up field and makes up for the yardage lost on the sack. Passing situation on 3rd and 10 at the 38-yard line. Deimon waste no time lining up after the previous play. Hiruma signals and Eyeshield 21 motions from the backfield to form a trips formation as the outside flanker. Hiruma receives the snap, turns immediately and hits Eyeshield 21 behind the line. A screen! He has blockers and he ducks out of a tackle by Onishi-kun before he's taken down by Kakei-kun at the 27-yard line. 1st and 10 and they are nearing the red zone."
"The energy here is incredible! The cheers for Deimon and Eyeshield 21 are literally rattling the windows of our booth," said Kumabukuro.
"For those of you just joining us after the Oujo White Knights defeat of the Sankaku Punks, 82-0 – we're at 2:15 seconds remaining in the 4th Quarter between the Deimon Devil Bats and the Kyoshin Poseidon, 9-3. I'm the man with the rapid-fire mouth Machine Gun Sanada with American Football Monthly senior writer Kumabukuro. Deimon started the drive on their own 2-yard line with close to five minutes remaining in the game and have driven the stalwart, hard-hitting Kyoshin defense lead by Shun Kakei and Mizumachi Kengo down the field to their own 27-yard line and are threatening the red zone. 1st and 10 and the clock continues to wind down as Deimon takes their time – we're at the two minute mark. I-formation with the tight-end to the short left side. Motion from the full-back to the left and Kyoshin adjust. Hard count, Hiruma-kun receives the snap and hands off to Eyeshield 21 to the left. He cuts back and follows around the right where he is met by Mizumachi--- stiff arm! He's break free and it scampers for extra yards before being taken down by Kakei-kun after a total gain of 7-yards."
"Little by little with each touch of the ball he's becoming better and better. With the exception of Hiruma-kun and of course Kurita-kun, Eyeshield 21 is the only one who has carried the ball this entire drive."
"He's putting on a clinic and taking the game into his own hands. Kyoshin stacks the line for the run and doesn't hide their plan to blitz. I-formation with receivers tight to the line. Hiruma-kun motions Manabu-kun to the short right side and the ball is snapped. Eyeshield-kun receives the ball up the middle and follows a massive plow as Kurita-kun blows up the defensive line allowing Eyeshield to gain those 3-yards for the first down."
"Before the coming of Eyeshield 21 to America, Kurita Ryokan-kun has been the lone shining star of a defunked Devil Bats squad. With exception to Banba-kun of the Taiyo Sphinx, Kurita-kun is the strongest linemen in the Kantou area hands down. It's understandable why the Shinryuuji Naga passed up on Kurita-kun for Kongo Agon, however, it's in my opinion that passing on someone who plays for you 100 percent for only a part-time talent – never mind that he is a talent only seen once every 100 yeahs – was possibly one of the biggest mistakes Shinryuuji ever made."
Sanada agreed. "Right you are, Kumabukuro-san."
"The key to Deimon's success has been their line on both sides of the ball. Both are undersized compared to other more prominent teams but they have skills not seen in those others which balance their weaknesses and strengths. They are the example of a balanced team with a high-powered running offense and a stifling defense."
"Deimon comes to the line with an empty backfield – Eyeshield 21 the lone receiver split to the short right side with Manabu, Taki, Tetsuo, and Raimon-kun spread to the wide left side in an empty quad formation. 1st and 10 on the 17-yard line, Hiruma-kun sets up the shotgun. The ball snaps before he says anything and he immediately rolls out to the left side as his receivers run their open field routes. He pumps once and lobs a pass to and open receiver… it's Eyeshield 21! He's taken down almost immediately by Shun Kakei but not before gaining 5-yards on the catch."
"These new formations seem to confuse Kyoshin who expected Deimon to run their normal I-formation and single-back offense. They see this type of play from their own offense, so why are they so ineffective in stopping the positive play? Without Kakei-kun, Deimon would have scored twice over already."
"Shotgun formation with two receivers split to the wide right side, Manabu in the slot and Tetsuo-kun as the split end. Taki-kun joins Eyeshield 21 split in the backfield next to Hiruma-kun and Raimon-kun is the lone receiver to the short left. The clock continues to wind down to less than a minute. The ball is snapped and Hiruma quickly fires the ball to Raimon-kun – Oh no! And he drops the interception. That was very close call for Deimon and a lucky break for Kyoshin as it stops the clock and allows them to take a rest without burning one of their timeouts. Wait, we have an official whistle and we go down to the field to see the call."
"Before the ball was snapped – Timeout, Deimon. This is their 2nd charged timeout of the half."
"Amazing. Even if Kyoshin's Kakei-kun managed to intercept the ball the official would have blown the play dead because of the timeout called from the sideline. It seems someone saw Poseidon's blitz coming and took it upon themselves to do something about it. I wouldn't doubt that it was Ayasegawa-dono."
"He would know Kakei-kun better than anyone, it appears."
"After a 30 second timeout the play clock restarts with the game clock remaining at 53 seconds until this game is officially at a close. The teams' line up after discussing their next course of action and Deimon shows that they plan to stick to the basics. Big I-formation with Raimon-kun the lone receiver to the short left side. 3rd and 5 on Kyoshin's 12-yard line. Hiruma-kun takes the snap and hands off to Eyeshield 21 up the middle and meets a wall of defenders. He bounces outside and spins around Mizumachi-kun before charging his way up field. He breaks another tackle and he could make it! And he's taken down by the ever present Kakei-kun 5-yards short of the goal line."
"The clock continues to wind down as tired as Kyoshin is showing themselves, they cannot risk burning one of their own timeouts for even a small reprieve. They can't play into Deimon's hands; they have to stay strong and vigilant if they want to secure a win in these remaining thirty seconds. They know Deimon needs the touchdown to win and I'm quite sure they would defend that goal line as if was the American Fort Knox."
"Deimon continues to kill the clock as it breeches the 30 second mark. 1st and Goal on the 5-yard line. Kyoshin leads Deimon 9-3 in the final seconds of the game. Deimon walks to the line as if they have all the time in the world; 1st and Goal. Power formation left to right with Eyeshield 21 dotting the I-formation in the backfield. Hiruma squats under center and makes the calls. Kyoshin stacks the line and shows they intend to stop him right here and now. Here's the snap to Hiruma. He turns. Hands off to Eyeshield up the middle! OH MY GOD!! DEVIL BAT DIVE!!"
"DEVIL BAT DIVE!!"
"DEVIL BAT DIVE!!"
Kumabukuro was nearly speechless. "Simply amazing…!" Sanada rattled off at the mouth with the amazing commentary.
"Deimon plowed right up the middle as Eyeshield 21 performed an amazing leap over his own line and the tall defensive players of the Kyoshin Poseidon to cross the goal line for the touchdown! A breath taking display of acrobatics and sheer determination in what culminated in a drive that started on their own 2-yard line in which Eyeshield 21 single-handedly drove back the Poseidon and willed the Devil Bats to score what will be the only touchdown of this game!"
End of Chapter 27
I've been very busy. Oh well. Congratulations to the Steelers for their recent win. The Eyeshield Manga has turned out very interesting so far.