FARGO — At 1-4 after the first five games of 2018, Fargo North football was looking a ninth season without an appearance in the postseason. Four straight wins to finish the regular season changed that for the Spartans.

In the first game of the postseason, they were blown out by eventual AAA state champions Bismarck, 45-0.

However, the turnaround helped the team break a near decade long playoff drought.

Spartan defensive line gets off the ball in the first week of practice. (Zach Staton/WDAY)
Spartan defensive line gets off the ball in the first week of practice. (Zach Staton/WDAY)

As they enter 2019, the expectations have been raised accordingly. 12 starters return for Adam Roland, who enters his sixth season as head coach of the program.

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He brings back UND commit Peyton Fisher, Blayne Anderson and Justin Milliard, who are expected to be senior leaders.

Fisher will take on extra responsibilities this season, taking over at quarterback for Caleb Fritel, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

The schedule presents challenges in multiple places. In the first week, the Spartans go to Jamestown, who was a state semifinalist a year ago.

They'll have another semifinal team, West Fargo Sheyenne, in the Fargodome on Sept. 20. Then they'll take on AA state champions in 2018, Shanley, the very next week.

The big rivalry game at South will take place on Oct. 11.