Ashland coach Hall: Pacific Rim Bowl still a go

The earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the northeastern coast of Japan last week, leading to a nuclear emergency that's ongoing, shouldn't threaten this summer's Pacific Rim Bowl, Ashland High head football coach Charlie Hall said Tuesday.

The game between Ashland High and a collection of Japanese all-stars is scheduled to be played at Phillips Field on July 29. According to Hall, most of the Japanese players who will make the trip hail from the Kansai Region of Japan, in Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto. The closest of those cities, Kyoto, is roughly 240 miles southwest of Tokyo, which is another 150 miles southwest of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant that's been spewing radiation.

According to The Associated Press, at least 10,000 people are feared dead and another half million have been displaced by the 9.0 quake and tsunami damage or the evacuation triggered by the Fukushima breach.

"As of now, it is (going to be played)," Hall said of the Pacific Rim Bowl, which takes place every other year at alternating sites. "As far as this is concerned, we've talked by e-mail and they said that they were fine. But are there going to be other issues that come up, things that I don't know about? I don't know."

Hall said since Friday's earthquake, he's received a steady stream of e-mails and phone calls from parents of both current and former AHS football players asking if there is anything that they can do to help the Japanese families connected to the game.

"I've had an unbelievable outpouring of concern from our parents," he said. "There's been so much concern, and I think that speaks to the character of our community. But at this point, there's not much that can be done."

The committee that's responsible for organizing the Pacific Rim Bowl met Tuesday night to discus the summer schedule, which will include a week of practice and sightseeing for the Japanese all-stars.

"I'd like to get them over here and show them some hospitality," Hall said.

The Grizzlies haven't beat Japan since 1999 in Ashland. Since then, the Japanese all-stars have won five in a row to take a 6-5 lead in the all-time series.

Japan won the last meeting, 20-0, in Osaka, Japan. This year's PRB marks Japan's sixth trip to Ashland.

The first Pacific Rim Bowl was held in 1988.

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