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Resilient Wood twins find comfort, success in Ennis amid adversity

Posted at 3:18 PM, May 09, 2018
and last updated 2019-01-02 20:00:00-05

ENNIS — Corbin and Tanner Wood have finally gotten comfortable.

The Wood brothers, who are identical twins, lived in Oregon until they were 8 years old. Their parents, Barbie, from Glasgow, and Greg Wood, from Havre, ended up separating a year prior to the boys’ move to Montana with Barbie.

It’s there that the Wood brothers found themselves bouncing around.

“Our mom just kind of wanted to move around, couldn’t find the right place,” Tanner said.

“We lived in Dillon a few years, moved around a bunch in Dillon. We ended up going to a small school in between Dillon and Twin (Bridges),” Corbin said.

The moving and bouncing around schools continued. The Woods moved to Silver Star, where they went to school in Twin Bridges, and lived there for a year before a move to Sheridan. After two years in Sheridan, they returned to Twin Bridges for their eighth-grade year.

Their mother got a job in Ennis their freshman year, allowing Corbin and Tanner to settle in the community, where they’ve left their mark on Montana’s sports landscape. The Wood brothers have helped Ennis to multiple state championships in both football and track and field.

Even though their parents have separated, both Corbin and Tanner still have a great relationship with their father, saying that he’s one of their best friends — a sentiment Greg echoed. The sons frequently visit Greg in Havre, where he owns his own construction business.

When Greg moved out to Oregon he had no intentions of returning to Montana. However, when Barbie said she’d be taking Corbin and Tanner back to Montana, Greg had only one choice.

“I shut down my business, sold what I needed to, packed up my things and moved to Montana. It was what had to happen,” Greg said. “We have a phenomenal relationship. I don’t hesitate to give those boys a hug at a game, on the field, wherever.”

“I wish I could be there for every single event that happens in their life, and I feel like I’ve missed out on tons of them, without question,” Greg continued. “I’ll get a phone call about — it could be anything, a day fishing, playing at the lake, a sporting event that I missed out on or something, but I try not to lose too much sleep over it or worry too much about it. I’m glad to be included.”

The Wood brothers have a sister, Sorelle, who lives with Greg in Havre and recently had a baby. Barbie has since moved to the Hi-Line to be closer to Sorelle and the baby, leaving the Wood brothers to live with family friends Michelle and Creighton Hughes in Ennis.

While Corbin and Tanner wanted to move to Havre to be with the rest of their family, they chose to finish their senior years in Ennis.

“We were 18, we had a choice, so we kind of wanted to stick it out,” Corbin said. “We have a lot of support here in Ennis.”

“Michelle and Creighton Hughes took them into their home like their own kids, and they love them to death,” Greg added. “I’m very grateful for that family, because they gave those boys an opportunity to see it through. I honestly believe it would have been more disrupted to their psyche to uproot them and move them up here.”

After finally settling down in Ennis, the soon-to-be star athletes were stricken with hardship in the form in injuries.

During their freshman year, Corbin tore his meniscus halfway through football season, but he finished the remainder of the year before opting for surgery. After rehabbing, Corbin returned for his sophomore season, but once again a knee injury cut his season short — this time in the first game.

“Corbin went to fake punt, and he ran on the sideline and a kid smoked him in the knee,” Tanner recalled.

“I walk of the field and I’m like, ‘Coach, my knee is messed up.’ They check it out, I ended up tearing my ACL and MCL, so I was out that whole entire season,” Corbin said. “I came back from that hard, though, harder than ever.”

“One story I’ll tell about that, he was probably against doctor’s orders, but he just immediately started working,” Ennis head football coach Chris Hess said. “I think (Corbin) reverse-dunked it a month and a half after the whole reconstruction. They’re just freaks.”

Tanner, too, has battled knee injuries during his career, along with a dislocated elbow. Tanner tore his meniscus last year, eventually missing the whole basketball season. Now, Tanner is recovering from an early-April meniscus surgery — an injury with which he battled through basketball — that took away the remainder of his meniscus.

Greg describes Corbin and Tanner as “the best of friends,” so when one is injured and unable to play, the other is not the same.

“They feed off of each other, so when one or the other, over all these years, has been out, whether for injuries, an illness, or whatever, it’s hard for them,” Greg said. “Corbin was out for a good part of his sophomore year for a knee injury, and it was tough for both of them. I think it was as hard for Tanner as it was for Corbin: Corbin because he couldn’t play, and Tanner because Corbin wasn’t out there playing with him.”

Just more than a month out of his most recent meniscus surgery, Tanner believes he can return in time to compete on the track, as he’s already been running around on his surgically repaired knee.

If Tanner can return to the track, he dramatically increases the Mustangs’ chances of accomplishing a rare feat — four consecutive track and field championships. During the run, the Wood brothers have contributed 17 total state medals — 11 for Corbin and six for Tanner. They were also members of Ennis’ record-setting relay teams in 2016. The Mustangs still hold the Class C record in the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.

While they’re stars on the track, they’ll both be continuing their careers on the football field in college at Dickinson (N.D.) State University. Football, as Greg says, has long been a passion of Corbin and Tanner.

“They like watching football, they love playing football, and eventually they ended up pretty much eating, breathing, and sleeping football,” Greg said with a laugh. “Early in high school they started playing football and they both said they want to play professional football. My thoughts at the time were, ‘What kid doesn’t?’ I nodded and said, ‘The harder you play, the more you dedicate to it, the better your chances.’ I worry about their injuries and getting injured further, but they don’t. They just keep at it.”

“They’ve just always been kind of all or nothing with sports and their activities. They’re fearless, and so they just kind of put it out there 100 percent, and I think that’s exactly why they’ve gotten the results they have as far as their athletic abilities,” Greg said.

Corbin and Tanner led the Mustangs to an 8-Man state championship their junior season and a semifinal finish this past fall. Hess heaped praises upon the gym rats.

“I really think you’re going to see them as all-Americans in a couple of years. I wouldn’t be surprised if they both start next year,” Hess said. “I just think those two are special. I don’t mean anything against the coaches in Montana, but I think they’re huge Big Sky (Conference) misses. They’re more than capable of playing on any level.”

“It’s hard to put into words,” Hess said when asked to describe watching Corbin and Tanner grow on the football field. “I’ve told other people this — I’ve never seen anything like those two. Between their speed, their strength and power, the way they hit, the way they love football, they just make everybody better. They’re not selfish, they couldn’t care less about stats. They’re just awesome dudes. More than anything, being able to coach two like that in a lifetime is one thing, but we’re really going to miss them. Just their leadership, being good guys, what they’ve meant to us and kind of the rocks they’ve been for us in the football program.”

Corbin has been named first-team all-state each of the past two seasons, while racking up more than 2,600 all-purpose yards and 36 touchdowns in that span. Tanner has been a first-team all-state selection each of the past three seasons. In his senior season, Tanner ran for 1,751 yards and 34 touchdowns, while throwing for 1,640 yards and another 28 touchdowns. In his career, he amassed 67 rushing touchdowns and 68 passing touchdowns.

Even with those gaudy offensive numbers, both Corbin and Tanner will be transitioning into full-time roles on the defensive side of the ball in the fall. Corbin will play linebacker while Tanner will play safety for the Blue Hawks.

The move to the defensive side of the ball is just another transition that the Wood brothers take in stride.

“Moving so much, we definitely got good at making friends, which is nice,” Tanner said. “I feel like it’s made me a pretty social person now. We’ve gone to Dickinson twice, we’ve already made friends with a bunch of guys up there.”

Where Corbin and Tanner Wood end up, expect them to find comfort in their success.