Michael Taras wants to make a name for himself.
“Right now,” said Heritage High School’s senior, who threw for 621 yards and five touchdowns as a first-year starter last fall, “I’m under the radar.”
All that might change, though, come this fall or better yet, after next week’s Northwest 9, the four-day, invite-only quarterback camp that starts Sunday at Northwest University in Kirkland. For the third straight year, the summer event showcases some of the Northwest’s premier quarterbacks across Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and a good showing by Taras can mean all the difference in elevating his name and game to among the region’s elites.
“If I make the top nine,” he said, “it would be life-changing.”
This year, Taras is one of four Southwest Washington quarterbacks to be hand-picked for the annual event, joining fellow 4A Greater St. Helens quarterback Lincoln Victor of Union, and Woodland’s Wyatt Harsh and Hockinson’s Canon Racanelli out of the 2A GSHL. Harsh is the veteran of the foursome; it’s the senior’s third trip to the Northwest 9, while it’s the inaugural one for Taras, Victor and Racanelli, Clark County’s passing leader (3,148 yards) and touchdowns (37) in 2016.
Under ex-Washington quarterback and one-time Oregon high school passing record holder Taylor Barton, the Northwest 9 started in 2015 to showcase the region’s quarterbacking talent.
The camp resembles the annual Elite 11, a national event that names the top 11 quarterback recruits.
This year’s Northwest 9 class features 30 quarterbacks who are put through daily drills to examine footwork, throwing accuracy, arm strength, leadership skills, and more. At the end of the camp comes the release of the Northwest 9.
For Taras, it’s also football’s mental side and daily preparations of being a quarterback he hopes to take away, among many, from his experience, and bring back to his final season at Heritage.
“I’m looking forward to taking in everything I learn from it,” he said, “just because it’s the best of the best in the Northwest.”
Graham-Kapowsin’s Dylan Morris, a junior and Washington commit, is back to defend his Northwest 9 title. Last year, Battle Ground’s Gunner Talkington placed fourth.