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Tom Mix, Published August 20 2012

High school football preview: Fargo North

Last fall was a season full of learning and gaining experience for the Fargo North football team.

The Spartans’ 2011 roster included only five seniors, which meant a lot of varsity minutes went to players who had not logged substantial time on Friday nights.

The young Spartans squad opened the season with a 31-0 loss to Minot, but recovered with wins against Fargo South and Fargo Shanley.

North went 1-5 the rest of the way and the team’s lack of experience started to show.

“There were a lot of sophomores and a lot of juniors on the football field for us and when that happens, you are going to have a lot of glitches and some situations where there is need for growth,” Fargo North head coach Kelly Kalina said.

The Spartans ended the season with a 21-20 loss to Bismarck Century, who eventually played in the North Dakota Class 3A state title game. North was left out of the state playoffs by a three-way tie breaker, but Kalina said he saw signs of his team heading in the right direction.

“As we improved, it didn’t necessarily mean we were going to make the playoffs or have a great record, but by the end of the season we were very pleased with where we were,” Kalina said.


Outlook

The Spartans struggled a year ago due to much of the roster adjusting to varsity minutes for the first time.

Those players got a taste of what it takes to play in Class 3A and return this fall to make up a North team that features 15 returning starters.

Not all of North’s inexperienced areas have been filled, but the team has been filled with familiar faces in fall camp, which was not the case a year ago.

“We are very happy that 15 out of the 22 positions from last year on offense and defense are back,” Kalina said. “We have to fill up those tough positions, quarterback, center, wide receiver, a couple defensive backs, but we have a ton of experience everywhere else.”

North returns a strong running game anchored by senior Peter Saintal, who finished with 1,188 yards and four touchdowns a year ago.

Saintal joins linebacker/wide receiver Matt Connelly and offensive and defensive lineman Jeremiah Goodman as players who have started three years for the Spartans.

“He has nature football abilities,” Kalina said of Saintal, who averaged 6.3 yards per carry and 132 yards per game last season. “His biggest thing this fall will be improving in terms of leadership. Guys are going to be looking up to him. He is a senior and a captain. Hopefully that is where he will grow the most.”

North’s experienced roster should help the team contend in a tight Eastern Dakota Conference.

“Top to bottom, the EDC is going to as competitive, if not more competitive than it was a year ago,” Kalina said


Players to watch

> Peter Saintal, Sr., RB

> Matt Connelly, Sr., LB/WR

> Jeremiah Goodman, Jr., OL/DL