At AHS, planning begins for 12th Pacific Rim Bowl

Planning has already begun for Pacific Rim Bowl XII, the friendly football game that pits Ashland High against a team of Japanese all-stars every other summer.

This year's game will be held at Walter A. Phillips Field on July 29, five days after the all-star team is scheduled to arrive here from across the ocean for a week of festivities, general revelry and — oh yeah — football, which serves as the backdrop to what is technically classified as a cultural exchange program.

While here, the Japanese all-stars will visit the Emigrant Lake water slides, Crater Lake and Grants Pass for Rogue River jetboat rides.

Ashland head coach Charlie Hall estimates that Ashland will suit up about 55 players, while Japan will bring 50.

As part of the week-long event, Ashland will also host a passing league and linemen challenge, which Hall hopes will draw eight to 10 local high school teams July 26.

"It's important," he said, "that we get to share hosting an international football team with other schools throughout the valley."

While in Ashland, the Japanese all-stars will stay with host families. Hall said he's already received 15 to 20 commitments from either parents of current players or parents of former players who have hosted before.

To prepare for the game, the Grizzlies will take part in a passing league in June and will start practicing a few days before the Japanese arrive.

The Grizzlies haven't won a game in the series 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.

"I like our chances," Hall said, noting that the Grizzlies have a strong senior class of about 20 players.

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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