Timberwolves’ Tandem: Taras, Meadors form potent duo at Heritage

Once rivals, the seniors look to leave their mark on program

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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Matt Gracey’s fictional crystal ball — the same one that was unsure mid-week whether Heritage’s football game this week at West Valley of Yakima was relocating to Vancouver because of ongoing air-quality issues in the Yakima Valley — is correct on this: wherever Robbie Meadors is, you’ll find Michael Taras.

That may ring true decades from now, too, the way Gracey envisions it: his receiver and quarterback driving across the interstate, singing to a tune that has them reminiscing of 2017, their high school senior year.

“That,” said Gracey, Heritage’s head coach, “will be those guys.”

Said Taras: “I hope so.”

The high school football season is only two games in, so it’s too early to hand out end-of-season awards. But after two games, it’s hard to argue against Meadors, a starting receiver and linebacker and Taras, the Timberwolves’ quarterback and first-year safety, heading an area list of most improved players.

And with it, the Timberwolves look to make it a 3-0 start facing West Valley this weekend. That game, originally scheduled for Friday night in Yakima, now is 4 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium.

And as Meadors proudly states hypothetically, “we’re connected at the hip,” between him and Taras, funny thing is, it didn’t used to be this way.

In fact, at one point, they weren’t on speaking terms.

That’s what happens when these two battled to play quarterback at Vancouver’s Covington Middle School. And the rivalry got so heated, Meadors elected not to play for Covington. Instead, he stuck with his Clark County Youth Football League team.

But when it came to their freshmen year at Heritage, Meadors had a choice to make: Give quarterbacking another try, or give Taras a weapon to throw to, and eventually make a formidable 1-2 punch.

If you can’t beat him, join him, Meadors thought. Both their senior seasons are off to memorable starts, and so is Heritage.

Through two games, Taras has nearly passed for as many yards (541) than he did in nine games in 2016 (621). He’s completed 60 percent (43 for 71) of his passes with five touchdowns, and also rushed for 136 yards and three scores.

A portion of those passing yards — 202 — are to Meadors, a player Gracey describes as a Swiss army knife. On defense, he’s plays both linebacker spots and safety. On offense, he’s sees time at wideout, slot, and H-back. His breakout game came in last week’s 34-7 win over Evergreen, catching six passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also had 10 tackles as one of the 10 new defensive starters for Heritage.

Giving the offensive play-calling to ex-Heritage standout Ashton Clark was one of the best decisions Gracey said he made this offseason. That’s because the Timberwolves are now a heavier passing team, which fits the player personnel of a veteran quarterback and experienced receivers. But don’t forget about that run game. Clark called it a perfect mesh after past seasons of progression.

“It’s all come to be a more complete offense,” said Clark, the first-year offensive coordinator.

A win Saturday puts Heritage at 3-0 in consecutive seasons. Even when describing each other’s strengths – work ethic, willing to learn, going the extra mile to get better — that 1-2 punch on display that began as ninth-graders for Meadors and Taras is now reaching its peak.

Just in time, too.

“Now that we’re seniors,” Taras said, “we have that same vision and it’s working out well.”

The same vision that Gracey sees decades from now: Meadors and Taras driving down the interstate, and reminiscing back to 2017.

“That’d be awesome,” Meadors said.