Greenville's Sugano lives out his American football dream - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Greenville's Sugano lives out his American football dream

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GREENVILLE, Pa. -

Yosuke Sugano came to the U.S. with a dream and came back this year to make that dream a reality. 

This season's been special for Greenville High School, even more so because of a certain Japanese all-star on the roster.

It was 10 years ago in Japan when Sugano got hooked on the game of football.

"I watched 2007 Super Bowl. It was awesome game. Since then, I love football," said Sugano.

He was a captain on a Japanese all-star team that played in Greenville last year. He enjoyed the experience so much that he wanted to come back. So this year, he's suiting up as a defensive end and offensive lineman for the Trojans.

"We knew he was a talented football player, but we didn't know how he would do in a game here in the states against the kids from the states," said Mark Hayes, Greenville's offensive line, and defensive ends coach.

It turns out that talent translated pretty well.

"He's huge for our defense. When we need a big stop he's there. He's in on almost every play," said senior Josh Giardina.

"He's incredibly quick. His first step is very impressive," said Hayes. "He's had at least one sack in every game that we've had and we've played against some of the best competition in our league."

"He has very good technique. He's very coachable and he's just a super nice kid and we're very lucky to have him," said head coach Brian Herrick. 

There were some adjustments though, not only going to a new country but learning a new position as well. Sugano was a fullback on offense in Japan. Here in the U.S. he's on the line.

"I'm a defensive end in Japan. I've never played offensive line in Japan, so offensive line is very hard for me," said Sugano. 

"When we have to check off on a play or an audible, he has to take time to process the language. American kids, they may not be able to do it, but at least they understand the language of it," said Hayes.

To be fair, that language barrier goes both ways sometimes. For example, when the coaches were trying to get him to rest his knee.

"Oh, 'nokori' is just rest, but he goes, 'no, that means sleep.' I was like, no, no, I don't want you to go to sleep," said Hayes. "We wanted to rest his knee. Well, we finally got it. Between coach Clark and I and Yo, we finally got it figured out, that's what he's supposed to do."

No surprise, this has been a unique experience for Yo, but it's also been a really neat experience for his coaches and teammates. They are learning something about him, where he's from, and also winning a whole lot of football games in the process.

"I've seen it and it's been wonderful," said Herrick. "Our kids, we have good kids here in Greenville. They've been very welcoming. In fact, just last night, they basically spent the night with him over at his place. Played some video games, watched some TV, ate some pizza. It's been a great experience for our kids as well."

An experience that's far from over.

Sugano says, his ultimate goal is to play college football in the states and coach Herrick says he has the talent and the determination to make that happen.

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