There is a move that Luke Raynak and Vincent Villarreal perform that defies the laws of physics.
Without looking at each other, the pair perform a long, complex combination of fist bump and hand shake that comes as natural to them as making a tackle.
The only thing that explains how South Salem High School’s senior two-way starting linemen can do such a thing is that they’ve been friends and teammates longer than some people have been playing football.
“I consider this guy to be my brother,” Raynak said. “He’s part of my family. There’s not a doubt in my mind he’d have my back to the death. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.”
The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Villarreal and the 6-1, 270-pound Raynak do similarly impressive moves when they go on the football field.
Whether it is the two sacks Raynak had against Forest Grove last week or the three sacks Villarreal had against McMinnville, they make a combination that hasn’t been stopped yet in the Saxons’ 3-0 start.
“I think from a casual fan to somebody who knows football and watches on film, they jump out at you right away because of their effort,” said South Salem defensive line coach Steve Norris. “They play hard. They’re very technically sound.
“They do a lot of things really well, but they also enjoy their teammates’ success and they generally get excited and feed off each other’s success. They truly want the best for their teammates as well as their own individual success and they’re more worried about the big we than the little I.”
Villarreal packed on a lot of weight in the offseason. He’s up more than 30 pounds since the end of the last wrestling season.
“To be as good as I wanted to be, like an all-conference offensive lineman I had to gain some muscle, gain some weight,” Villarreal said.
They both played one way as juniors – Villarreal as an offensive lineman and Raynak as a defensive lineman and both were honorable mention all-league – but now start on both sides of the ball.
Raynak only played in a few games early last season as a starting defensive lineman, but when he was on the field you could tell.
“He’s one of the best offense and defensive linemen I’ve ever been around, and I’ve been doing this for 20-some years,” South Salem offensive line coach Paul Cary said. “He’s got college football written all over him if he wants to play college football. They both have the motor, but then you throw 275 pounds and 6-foot-1 behind Luke.”
Adding Villarreal to the defensive line gave the team not only an athlete it needed in covering the field sideline to sideline, but a player who can make moves upfield and get to the quarterback.
“It’s a big impact,” Raynak said. “Last year we didn’t really utilize him enough. He’s quick on the outside and an all-around strong player. He got really big for us this summer.”
The Raynak-Vaillarreal combination could continue a long time. Both have brothers, Joshua Raynak and Ricky Vaillarreal, who play for South Salem’s freshman football team.
What makes this pair so good, besides their skills, is their relationship off the field.
They have a rare bond that only has gotten better with time and makes them truly exceptional as a duo.
“We’re a pretty dominant force,” Villarreal said.
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or Twitter.com/bpoehler