Merrimack’s Wood brothers help boost Tomahawks
MERRIMACK – There seems to be a lot of brotherly love at Merrimack High School when it comes to football.
The last couple of years, there were Joe and Ben Eichman, and then Joe moved on to the University of New Hampshire.
This year? Introducing Tristan and Devin Wood, who have played great on the edge in the open field for the Tomahawks, both as receivers (Tristan slot, Devin wide) and in the secondary.
“Good, keep ’em coming,” said Merrimack coach Kip Jackson, whose 8-2 team is set to take on Bedford in Saturday’s Division I semifinals. “Especially kids like that. They’re freakin’ good, they’re great kids, and they really work hard.”
Tristan is an accomplished senior, and hopes to play in college next year. At that time, the Tomahawks will then be Devin’s team, as he’s now a junior.
“Devin’s really come on as the year has progressed defensively,” Jackson said. “And obviously on offense he’s a difference maker.
“And Tristan, he played in the playoff game two years ago, he started. He’s our most experienced kid, and he really stepped up in the second half (vs. North in the quarterfinals.”
Whenever they were old enough to start playing competitive football, they did, Devin said. The family moved here from Concord when they were in elementary school.
And they’ve always played together, except for one year when Tristan started out playing hockey and Devin played football first. Why?
“It’s New Hampshire,” Tristan said. “I was following my cousins who played hockey and I played pond hockey.”
But that didn’t last long, and he eventually joined his younger brother on the football field.
“It’s awesome,” Devin Wood said of playing togther. “We’ve been playing for awhile, I know I can trust him. He loves me, I love him. It’s just knowing that you’ve got someone who has your back.”
“It’s always good,” Tristan Wood said. “We talk a lot, we communicate, trust each other. All we have to do is nod our head to each other; we know exactly what each other is thinking. It’s just great, it’s awesome.”
Tristan will tell Devin to get lower, turn hips the right way, “and I’ll just nod my head and say ‘Yup’, and I’ll be on from that.”
“We just remind each other,” Tristan said. “If we forget a play, we’ll remind eachother. If we screw up, we’ll say ‘Pick you’re head up, we’re good, it’s fine.'”
Both have speed.
“Devin changes gears like nobody’s business when he’s on offense,” Jackson said. “He’s able to get to balls that nobody else can get.”
And Tristan was able to make a huge tackle in the North quarterfinal on Titan Austin Ouellette, stopping a fourth down sweep that was two yards from getting a first down near the ‘Hawks’ 20-yard line late in regulation. Had that play not been made, perhaps North would have won in regulation.
“He changed gears, made the tackle,” Jackson said. “He (Ouellette) is super fast, but Tristan has football speed and was able to make the play. It was awesome.”
It’s the kind of play that Tristan likes, because, even though he is also a good receiver, he loves defense better.
“I get to hit somebody,” he said. “We all like to hit somebody. But I feel like the energy is all on our defense. If we can do than we have less cares on the offense.”
Devin, meanwhile, likes both.
“I just do well blocking on the edge, catching footballs, doing my job, and on defense setting the edge,” Devin Wood said. “Force the ball carrier inside so Adam (Thornton) and Ben can make plays. I just do my job, trust they’re going to do their job.”
The Wood brothers stand out for a reason, Jackson said, and likes a lot of things about them as a pair.
“Their intensity,the fact they won’t back down from anybody else, and they both lead by example,” Jackson said.
And, he said, both have a college future in the game. Just another tandem that makes the Tomahawks a good football team, good enough this year to be heading to Bedford Saturday in the semis.
“It’s awesome,” Devin Wood said. “As a team, we all want to just succeed.”
When the Wood brothers play well, the Tomahawks usually do.