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Fargo North goes 7-for-7 on offensive drives in first half to roll past West Fargo Horace in 11A football

The Spartans spread the scoring around with four different players finding the end zone as North improved to 1-0

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Fargo North's Peder Haugo charges toward a touchdown against West Fargo Horace during their football game Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, at North.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum
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FARGO — The Fargo North football team knew it had talent returning on both sides of the ball this season and they showed it during its season opener on Friday night.

The defense collected two interceptions while the offense went 7-for-7 on offensive drives in the first half to lead the No. 2-ranked Spartans on their way to a 56-7 win over West Fargo Horace in an 11A Eastern Dakota Conference contest played at North High School.

North received three first-half passing touchdowns from junior quarterback Ethan Welk, two of which were to junior receiver Jeremiah Sem with another to Carson Hannestad, while junior running back Peder Haugo and senior running back John Williams combined for four first-half rush touchdowns as North improved to 1-0.

Williams finished the game with 133 yards rushing on four attempts and two TDs, a dream game of sorts after being sidelined a season ago.

"It was great to be back," Williams said. "I was injured last year and couldn't play. To come back with two touchdowns in my first game back in two years, it felt amazing. It felt good to start with a win for the season."

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Fargo North's John Williams breaks away on a touchdown run against West Fargo Horace during their football game Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, at North.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

North head coach Adam Roland felt good with the victory as well, but recognized there's always things his squad can improve on heading into next week.

"We came out and did what we needed to do," Roland said. Our ones came out and played very well and our twos did too. We rotated in and got our JV in. We did what we set out to do (tonight). We saw a lot of different players, our starters took care of business and we still have a lot to look at on film.

"There's always things you can improve and take care of all season, but really especially early in the season that we're really going to break it down and we're going to get nit-picky with — even with the good plays — we're going to get picky with the guys and really demand perfection from them. That's what we have to do every week of the season."

"Yeah, we're smiling, we just made history," those were the words of Horace head coach Harvey McMahon to his players prior to posing for a post-game team photo after the Hawks took a varsity field for the first time in program history Friday night.

For McMahon, the scoreboard didn't matter as much as the historic moment and learning experience did.

"It's a dream come true," McMahon said. "There were so many things (tonight) that were bigger than the scoreboard. As a program, we talked about how this is a big step for us. This is probably the biggest step we've taken since the inception of this program. And our kids took it head on. They weren't scared, they had a learning mentality through all of this and it's something really encouraging that we can build on.

"It's more of a celebration (tonight) because a lot of hard work paid off. And the scoreboard — obviously we're disappointed and we're competitors and you don't like to see it that way — but again, we keep that perspective piece and we know that there's so many bigger things later down the road. Nothing but celebration."

With his team now sitting at 0-1 on the season, McMahon added that the fun is just beginning.

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"This is where it gets fun," he said. "Because as a varsity program, the big thing is you've got to start acting like a varsity program. So it requires watching the film, it requires study habits, it requires a good week of practice and it requires an ability to forget what happened before and to continue on."

The first varsity touchdown in Horace history went to junior fullback Dylan Johnson, who ran the ball in from four yards out with 11:06 remaining in the second quarter to make it a 21-7 game.

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West Fargo Horace's Dylan Johnson scores against Fargo North during their football game Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, at North.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

North raced out to a 21-0 lead with the first touchdown of the night coming on a 17-yard connection from Welk to Hannestad to put the Spartans up early in the contest.

After the Hawks punted for the second time, Welk connected for 44 yards with Sem to make it a two-score game before Haugo made it 3-for-3 on offensive drives with a 1-yard TD rush with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter.

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Fargo North's Jeremiah Sem celebrates a touchdown against West Fargo Horace during their football game Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, at North.
Michael Vosburg/The Forum

After Johnson found the end zone for Horace, Williams added another rush TD before Welk connected with Sem for a 16-yard score. Haugo tacked on two more rush touchdowns to make it a 49-7 game at half.

Williams added his second score of the night on the first play from scrimmage of the third quarter with a 66-yard run while the running clock went into effect for the entirety of the second half.

Welk finished 4-for-4 passing with 44 yards and three touchdowns.

Haugo finished the game with 80 yards rushing on eight carries while junior running back Jim Miller added 34 yards on five carries.

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Sem finished with three receptions for 44 yards.

Horace sophomore quarterback Axel Anderson completed three passes on 15 attempts for 52 yards through the air and two interceptions.

Johnson led the Hawks' ground game with 29 yards on 17 carries, while junior Gavin Olson rushed for 21 yards on two carries.

Horace freshman receiver Ty Geray had one reception for 36 yards.

The Spartans finished with 284 yards of total offense with 16 first downs while the Hawks at 107 offensive yards with six first downs.

Junior Peyton defensive back Peyton Trogstad and senior linebacker Carter Berg each had an interception for North.

North visits Grand Forks Central (1-0) on Friday at 7 p.m. while Horace hosts No. 3-ranked Dickinson (0-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.

WFH 0 7 0 0—7
FN 21 28 7 0—56

FN — Hannestad 17 pass from Welk (Watson kick)

FN — Sem 44 pass from Welk (Watson kick)

FN — Haugo 1 run (Watson kick)

WFH — Johnson 4 run (Perez kick)

FN — Williams 25 run (Watson kick)

FN — Sem 16 pass from Welk (Watson kick)

FN — Haugo 2 run (Watson kick)

FN — Haugo 11 run (Watson kick)

FN — Williams 66 run (Watson kick)

Ryan Spitza joined The Forum in December 2021 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Marquette, Mich., a city of 20,000 on the southern shore of Lake Superior. He majored in multimedia journalism and minored in public relations at Northern Michigan University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in May 2019. While attending college, Spitza gained real-world experience covering high school and college athletics for both The Mining Journal and The North Wind.

Spitza can be reached at 701-451-5613 or rspitza@forumcomm.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryspitza.
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