Mount Baker football coach Ron Lepper was out for a run along Deming Road early on Saturday morning recently.
"It was kind of weird, because I was the only one out of the road," Lepper said in a phone interview. "Then all of a sudden a truck goes by, and sure enough it was Sterling (Honeycutt) and Matt (Scoles) together. They were probably on their way to go get some breakfast or something. Those guys are always together."
It's been that way since Honeycutt and Scoles starting playing football together in the seventh grade.
Nearly six full seasons later, the duo is still playing side-by-side, in the middle of the Mountaineers' defensive line, as they prepare to head to Battle Ground District Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 17, for a Class 1A state quarterfinal showdown with unbeaten La Center.
"We've been friends as long as I can remember," Honeycutt said in a phone interview. "We just like to hang out and do things together."
Everything from playing Madden and racing video games, to going on trips with each other's families to Shasta, Chelan and Winthrop.
They even have been practice partners with each other during wrestling season the past three years, and Lepper said it's likely they'll be paired together again this winter.
"It's great having a friend like that," Scoles said. "Outside of games, we can talk about how things went - what we did good and what we didn't do so well and how the line did."
So far this season, Honeycutt and Scoles have been doing pretty good at plugging up the middle from their defensive tackle positions, especially considering this is the first year each has started at the position on the varsity level.
Scoles had previously seen his share of varsity playing time, though, as he'd been a three-year starter at long snapper and "He might be the best we've ever had," Lepper said.
"We were really unsure in camp what we were going to have on the defensive line after all the losses we had to graduation last year," Lepper said. "Those guys have stepped in and done a pretty good job for us. It allows us to use Chase Toctocan and Marcus Thomas as starters on offense, and gives us a chance to have all our seniors start. ... They've gotten a lot better as the season has progressed. They're two of our bigger guys, and they've gotten better week by week."
Both turned in perhaps their biggest games of the year last week, in Mount Baker's biggest game of the season, to date - a 21-14 first-round victory over Woodland.
Scoles, a 6-foot, 212-pounder, led the team in defensive points - a stat usually led by linebackers in Mount Baker's system - and recorded seven quarterback hurries and a key sack late in the game.
"Matt has made a lot of big plays for us recently," Lepper said. "He's realized he needs to go hard all the time, and he's just been a force. He did that, and he made big play after big play last week."
The same could be said for the 5-10, 211-pound Honeycutt, who Lepper said has really come on the past three to four weeks since Mount Baker's Oct. 19 win over Blaine.
"It's been pretty sweet being a part of everything," Honeycutt said. "It's definitely been a big move for us. We were expecting to be on varsity this year and help the team win, but we've had to work for it. We've been putting in 100 percent pretty much every day."
And as friends, Honeycutt and Scoles are there to make sure each other is doing just that.
"They have a little friendly competition going," Lepper said. "They pick each other up. When one of them gets to the quarterback or something, they kind of smile at the other one and say, 'Where were you?' And the other guy says, 'If he can do it, so can I.' I think it's really good to have those two guys right next to each other."
But it's not just motivation they provide each other. Honeycutt and Scoles have gotten good at making in-game adjustments to help each other be more effective, as well.
"I think he's pretty good at making moves to get past offensive linemen," Scoles said of Honeycutt. "I'm better at pushing guys back. He's quicker than I am. It works pretty good. He's quicker than I am, and I try to use my strength. We talk to each other a lot during games, and we tell each other how we're playing. We know what each guy does better, and if we feel it would be better for him to go up against one guy or me against another, we just switch sides."
Even teammates, like defensive end Dalton Munsell, have noticed how well Honeycutt and Scoles have gotten at working together.
"They're pretty much like brothers," Munsell said in a phone interview. "The feed off each other. I think it's awesome that they can do that. Instead of bickering about things, the feed off each other and get in there, do the dirty work and get tackles and sacks. They've made us a lot better in the middle of the line."
The Mountaineers definitely will need that on Saturday, as they face a team that rushed for 248 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 29-13 win over Meridian.
But if they are able to slow up the Wildcats attack and Mount Baker can find a way to get the victory, the Mountaineers would get a chance to play in the state semifinals for the first time in the program's history.
"That would be unbelievable," Scoles said. "We'd all like to be a part of doing that."
It would be even more special to do it while playing next to your best friend.
"We're more like brothers," Honeycutt said. "I trust him. I know if the play goes his way, he's probably going to get it, and if it goes my way, I'm probably going to get it. It's a lot of fun to play next to each other."
Reach David Rasbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2286.
SATURDAY'S STATE FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS
CLASS 2A STATE QUARTERFINALS
? Burlington-Edison at Capital (at Olympia Ingersoll Stadium), 4 p.m.
? Lynden at Sumner, 7:30 p.m.
CLASS 1A STATE QUARTERFINALS
? Mount Baker at La Center (at Battle Ground District Stadium), 1 p.m.
CLASS 1B STATE FIRST ROUND
? Lummi at Taholah (at Aberdeen Stewart Field), 3 p.m.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.