Though he has not yet played in a varsity football game, Holden Bea recently earned a place among the best high school quarterbacks in the Pacific Northwest.
The Washougal High School rising sophomore will participate in The Northwest 9 Main Event, to be held Friday Aug. 6, through Sunday, Aug. 8, at the SOZO Sports complex in Yakima.
“I was very excited (to be chosen),” Bea said. “I want to get my name out there (because) my goal is to play college football. I also want to represent Washougal and get our names out there. My high school team is going to be very good this season, and I want to be the best that I can be for them.”
Taylor Barton, the director of the Pacific Northwest-based Alliance QB Academy and former University of Washington quarterback, founded The Northwest 9 in 2015 to provide an opportunity for the state’s best quarterbacks to gather in one setting and display their skills in a competitive environment.
“When you get all of these top guys together, it does not matter if they are from a big or small town, good or bad team, or how many times their offense does or does not throw the ball,” Barton told 247Sports.com in 2020. “This is an opportunity to show out and see where you stack up against all the heavy hitters from the region.”
The event will feature 30 rising seniors, 25 underclassmen (rising sophomores and juniors) and 10 rising freshmen from Washington and Oregon. Northwest 9 coaches selected Bea after evaluating his performance during a tryout camp in Seattle in mid-June.
“I was definitely nervous (at the tryout because) it was one of the first showcases that I’ve been to,” he said. “But I had prepared and trained so I could showcase my skills and do the best that I could do.”
During the “main event,” coaches will put Bea and the other quarterbacks through a variety of drills and tests designed to examine their footwork, arm strength, accuracy, escapability, leadership and ability to read coverages. Then they’ll rank the top nine for each grade class.
“There will definitely be a lot of good quarterbacks there, and (the competition) will help me out with everything, mentally and physically,” Bea said. “My main goal would obviously be to get No. 1. I want to get the highest rank that I can get. I also want to learn everything that I can. I want to feel comfortable in these types of situations, because there’s definitely going to be a lot of colleges and media and all of that stuff (there). I want to get comfortable and show off my skills.”
Bea is capable of finishing in the top nine, but will benefit from the event no matter where he ends up in the rankings, according to Northwest 9 coach Brendin Quinn, who’s been training the Washougal High quarterback for the past several months.
“As a small-town kid, being on a stage like that — it’s the top quarterback event in the Northwest — will be good for him,” Quinn said. “Even if he doesn’t finish in the top nine, you’ve got all kinds of media outlets there who will see him throw and know who he is from that point on. College coaches (will be there). The fact that he’s at that main event shows that he’s ‘a dude.’ He is ‘a guy.’ He’s there, he’s on the list, everyone’s going to see him throw, and he’s going to be a name that sticks later on. Getting put on a stage like this is going to be huge for him.”
Bea made great strides as the starting quarterback for the Panthers’ junior varsity squad earlier this year as he developed a more well-rounded game.
“(I’ve improved) drastically, especially from my middle-school to freshman seasons,” he said. “In my middle-school years, I was more of a running quarterback. I didn’t have a perfect (throwing) form or anything like that. I started training and (during) my freshman year I blossomed into more of a passer instead of a ‘keep-it-and-go’ (quarterback).”
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Bea has most of the physical and mental abilities he needs to succeed, but must improve his consistency to maximize his potential, according to Quinn.
“The first thing I noticed (when I started working with him) was his size. He’s past 6-foot, and you don’t see freshman quarterbacks with that size very often,” Quinn said. “He would make some throws that you see some junior and senior varsity starters make. But the fact that he was younger, a freshman, that consistency just wasn’t there yet. That was the biggest thing for me — making those consistent varsity-type throws over and over again and making it look easy. Once he’s able to do that, the sky’s the limit for him.”
After the Northwest 9 event, Bea will turn his full attention to earning the starting nod for the Panthers’ varsity squad this fall.
“That’s my main goal, to be the varsity starter,” he said. “Our senior quarterback (Tristan Farrell) graduated, so the spot’s open, and I’ve worked really hard in the offseason to try to fill that role. I’ve got good chemistry going with the receivers.”
And according to Quinn, it’s just a matter of time before Bea becomes “one of those top two or three names when we talk about quarterbacks in the Vancouver area.”
“We’re talking about him as if he already is a varsity starter, and that tells you a lot,” he said. “He just has to keep pushing forward. He means business. Whatever the goal is for the training that day, he knows that he needs to accomplish it, then the fun can come. That’s been my biggest thing with him that I love to see.”