The senior grew up watching current Montclair State star A.J. Scoppa become Bergen County’s all-time leading rusher. And while he never saw Jeff Bliss, Scoppa’s predecessor and New Milford’s current running back coach, play in person, Tobler was recently treated to a copy of Bliss’ college recruiting video.
“My computer teacher, who made his film, was helping me with mine, and he showed me Coach Bliss’ film,” said Tobler, who leads the Knights (1-0) into tonight’s NJIC Liberty Division showdown with Lyndhurst (1-0). “It was pretty sick, watching the way he ran, and comparing it to me. And now, he’s teaching me.”
And Tobler has proved to be an ace student and worthy successor to New Milford’s running back tradition. He rushed for 1,261 yards and 18 touchdowns in nine games last season, and turned in a strong all-around effort last week as the Knights opened the season with a 19-14 win over Bogota.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Tobler carried 15 times for 87 yards, caught four passes for 55 yards and scored two touchdowns, one on an 85-yard kickoff return. The one thing that jumps out about his performance is that the speedy Tobler has become a much more aggressive runner this season.
“That’s something I’ve wanted to do,” Tobler said. “As a runner, I’m a shifty kind of a guy, and my instincts always tell me to make a move. But if the time comes, and I have to lower my shoulder and go right at someone, I can.”
That attitude, combined with his speed, has put Tobler on the Division I recruiting map. Akron likes him, and he’s drawn interest from Holy Cross, Tulsa, Temple and Monmouth.
“That interest means a lot to me because coming into high school, I didn’t even know if I was going to play football,” said Tobler, who enjoys writing and is considering majoring in journalism.
Tobler’s ability to catch passes also is a plus. Quarterback Connor Swanson has become more confident, and teams have to be wary of Tobler on screens and short swing passes that can easily turn into big gains if he gets into the open field.
“We know what he can do,” New Milford coach Bill Wilde said. “We’re trying to make him beat you in different ways.”