Spitza: 3 things from Week 0 of the North Dakota prep football season
Fargo North looks strong again, Kindred opened its 11B state title defense and Grand Forks Red River earned a win over 11AA opponent Williston
FARGO — As I mentioned in my preview column last week, I couldn’t have been more thrilled to kick off a new season of high school football in my new home state of North Dakota. There were several exciting story lines to follow — from one 11B squad opening its state title defense to an 11A school taking the varsity field for the very first time. Here are three things from Week 0 of the high school football season:
No. 1: Fargo North appears to be an early threat to repeat as EDC champs
Be sound on offense, defense and special teams. That’s what Spartans head coach Adam Roland told me would be the key to winning their Week 0 game against West Fargo Horace.
Mission accomplished and in a big way. No. 2-ranked North rolled to a 56-7 victory over the Hawks in a game which had the running clock rule in effect for the entire second half.
Four different Spartans found the end zone during the rout with all-state and all-EDC junior running back Peder Haugo breaking the plane three times while rushing for 84 yards.
Senior running back John Williams and junior receivers Carson Hannestad and Jeremiah Sem also had big offensive nights, combining for five touchdowns and 247 yards of total offense. Junior quarterback Ethan Welk recorded three touchdown passes and 103 yards through the air.
Defensively, North limited Horace to just 87 yards of total offense while junior defensive back Peyton Trogstad and senior linebacker Carter Berg each collected an interception.
It’s obviously early and outside of this game, only two other Eastern Dakota Conference 11A teams took the field this past weekend. But the Spartans made a statement if nothing else, and the rest of the conference may want to be on high alert moving forward.
No. 2: Kindred begins state title defense with season-opening win
The Vikings lost some talent from a season ago, but No. 1-ranked Kindred still looks like it’ll have a solid team this year after opening its state title defense with a 19-0 home victory over Lisbon.
It's a weight off his team’s shoulders as head coach Matt Crane said after Friday’s contest. Kindred limited the Broncos to less than 100 yards of offense. Senior quarterback Jorgen Swenson tossed two touchdown passes with senior running back Trey Heinrich adding a score in the final quarter to put the game away.
Sophomore Kylan Swenson and senior Charlie Biewer each caught TDs from Jorgen Swenson. Sophomore free safety Izaak Spelhaug and senior cornerback Masen Allmaras each grabbed an interception on the defensive side of the ball.
No. 3: Grand Forks Red River thumps 11AA opponent Williston
We may see the No. 5-ranked Roughriders move up in the poll soon after a 43-14 win over 11AA opponent Williston.
Running back Brett Feller rattled off four touchdowns and rushed for 193 yards. Is this an early sign of an all-EDC season? Sophomore quarterback Pearce Parks threw for 103 yards, as well.
The Roughriders will be a team to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.
Two bonuses that deserve recognition on their own take us back to West Fargo Horace at Fargo North on Friday night.
Senior John Williams was the leading rusher for the Spartans with 144 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. It was his first time on the field in two years after sitting out last season with an injury.
“To come back with two touchdowns in my first game back in two years, it felt amazing,” Williams said after Friday’s contest.
On the other bench, Horace received a very rude awakening in its first taste of varsity competition. A touchdown from junior fullback Dylan Johnson was the only thing that saved the Hawks from a goose egg. “We want varsity” chants were quipped from the Fargo North student section.
But the team never gave up. The heads never hung low. They battled on all 85 plays from scrimmage. Johnson will remember that first touchdown in school history.
“Yeah, we’re smiling, we just made history,” Horace head coach Harvey McMahon told his players before posing for a team photo after they took the field as a varsity program for the first time — setting aside the disappointing loss to recognize the bigger moment that will be etched in school history forever.
Positivity breeds positivity, and should that attitude remain, the Hawks will get there. Maybe not this season, maybe not the next, but by building a positive culture right from the get-go, Horace will be a force to be reckoned with sooner rather than later.
The North Dakota prep football season started with a bang and here’s hoping for many more exciting moments along the way.