Seeing how they wear Nos. 77 and 78, respectively, Lynden seniors Caleb Newman and Matt Meyer have spent an awful lot of time standing next to each other during the sometimes seemingly endless full-roster introductions before state playoff games the past three weeks.
They'll do it again a little before 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, as Lynden prepares to play Tumwater for the Class 2A state championship.
Though they're separated by only one number on the roster and a few teammates when they line up at Lynden's offensive tackle and defensive end positions on the field, Newman and Meyer are in many ways complete opposites.
While Meyer is a picture of quiet, determined focus during pregame introductions, Newman is more like a caged Lion, pacing back and forth, waiting for the gate to swing open so he can chase down the first, unfortunate soul he sees.
"It's fun to watch," Meyer joked in a phone interview. "Man, he is intense. ... He knows he better not hit me, because I'll dish it right back to him."
OK, so that's one area where Meyer and Newman are not all that different, but that's the exception to the rule.
"We are not the same person at all," Newman said in a phone interview. "We're good buddies, but we have totally different personalities. We mess around and give each other trouble all the time because we are so different. We laugh at ourselves all the time. If other teams saw how we act around each other in school, they'd probably think there was no way we could play football together."
Ah, but that's their little secret - Meyer and Newman play opposite each other quite well.
In fact Lynden's odd couple makes very nice bookends along the offensive line and for the Lions' defensive front seven.
"They have very different personalities off the field, but they're both extremely nice young men," Lynden coach Curt Kramme said. "But when they're on the field, they understand what they're out there for. It's not warm and fuzzy time. It's hit-or-be-hit time, and they like to do the hitting."
And they're very effective at it.
At 6-foot-5, 280 pounds, Meyer is the biggest of Lynden's linemen.
Meyer got to cut his teeth at left tackle for two years next to former Lynden three-year starter Taylor Witman, giving him a chance to learn all the intricacies of playing along Lynden's line.
His size and skill have already landed him a Division I college scholarship, as he has committed to play for Washington State, where he will join former Nooksack Valley standout B.J. Salmonson.
"Matt is like a human bulldozer," Lynden offensive line coach Blake Witman said in a phone interview.
But he's not just a big, strong guy - he's an athlete, too.
Just go to a Lynden boys' basketball game later this month - something Kramme encouraged all prospective college football recruiters to come do - and watch him work his magic in the post. Or take in a baseball game this spring and watch him stretch for a ball at first base.
"He runs for a big man," Kramme said. "He's got good lateral quickness, and he can jump. That kind of athletic ability has allowed him to play even more physical."
And to help take advantage of that, the Lions started using him at defensive end late last year.
It was a move Meyer said he welcomed - even wanted.
"I always wanted to play on defense," he said. "Learning all the plays on offense when I was a sophomore was a battle. They tried me at defensive end, too, but it was just too much. Then last year, I got all the plays on offense down, and so they started to teach me defense, and by the end of the season I was loving it."
And so was Lynden, as he made a big impact from that position during the Lions' run through the state playoffs.
This year, as a full-time two-way starter, he's logged 20 solo tackles, 37 assists, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
"I enjoy playing opposite him," Newman said. "I know one of the two of us or one of our linebackers are probably going to make the play. It doesn't matter where we line up, we just tackle the guys with the ball."
Well, Newman says it does matter where he lines up - just a little.
"I always get to line up on the wide side of the field, and he gets the short side," Newman said. "It's awesome, because he gets so mad. I like to give him trouble about it, too, just to egg him on a little. But really, it's nice to know that the guy on the other side of the line is going to hit you just as hard as I'm going to hit you."
And Newman can definitely hit.
Though Meyer is a tremendous athlete and is good playing in space, Lynden chooses to line Newman up on the wide side of the field because he is a physical specimen with sprinter's speed.
"His dad played football at (the University of) Utah and is really into fitness, and that rubbed off on Caleb," Kramme said. "He trains constantly. He's got those athletic genes, and he's worked hard to make himself into a tremendous athlete."
At 6-3, 220 pounds, Newman also is a standout on the wrestling mat - he advanced to Mat Classic at 220 pounds last year - and last spring during track season he finished 10th at state in the 400 meters (51.27 seconds) and helped the Lions 4x400 relay team place fourth.
With athleticism like that and his high motor, Newman already has received scholarship offers to play for Army, Air Force, Eastern Washington and Washington State.
Meyer is making a case for Newman to join him with the Cougars, because, "He is a guy you want on your team. I'd sure rather have him on my team than to have to face him," Meyer said. But Newman said he is taking the service academy offers very seriously, because, "I might regret this later, but I like the structure and discipline they provide, and I've always through about serving."
Unlike Meyer, Newman got his start on defense, where he has 26 solo tackles, 43 assists, four sacks and a team-high seven tackles for loss this year.
On offense, he was a short-yardage running back, as he scored four touchdowns on nine carries last year, before shedding jersey No. 37 and moving to right tackle for a Week 5 win over Ferndale to shore up an area of weakness for the Lions after an injury.
"I had never played the line before," Newman said. "I wasn't familiar with some of the run- and pass-blocking techniques and the stances and pulling, but we have a great line coach, who taught me the basics and told me just to do what was comfortable for me. They just kind of threw me in there, and I haven't left since."
And Lynden is glad he hasn't, as they now have outstanding tackles on each side of a strong interior line made up by Bret DeGraaff, Marcus Fakkema and Casey Halbert.
Together that group has helped Lynden rush for 2,944 yards and 49 touchdowns and average 6.8 yards per attempt this season.
"The neat thing about all five of those guys is they are such different guys," Witman said. "Their personalities are so different. But they enjoy those differences. They like making fun of each other off the field, and they enjoy each other's company. And on the field, they work together so well. It's a pleasure working with those guys and appreciating them each for who they are."
And nobody appreciates each other's differences more than Meyer and Newman.
"We're not the same person at all," Meyer said. "He's like the Energizer Bunny. He has so much energy. It takes me a little while to get going, but when I'm going, I'm going."
But when they're both going, opponents better look out.
"It's really nice to know the guy on the other side is a big horse, and if you run away from my side, he's going to hit you just as hard as I would," Newman said.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
CLASS 2A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
LYNDEN vs. TUMWATER
Time: 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
Site: Tacoma Dome
Advance tickets: Available at Lynden High School main office between 8 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. through Friday. Tickets cost the same as they will at the Tacoma Dome - $15 for adults and $11 for students with ASB cards.
OTHER CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
Class 4A: Skyline vs. Bellarmine Prep, 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Class 3A: Bellevue vs. Eastside Catholic, 7:30 p.m. Friday
Class 1A: Royal vs. Montesano, 10 a.m. Saturday
Class 2B: Morton-White Pass vs. Lind-Ritzville-Sprague, 4 p.m. Friday
Class 1B: Liberty Christian vs. Neah Bay, 4 p.m. Saturday
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.