MADISON – Joe Mobley knows the true meaning of the word teammate.
The Madison High School senior also understands what it means to do something for the betterment of the team.
At the end of last season, Mobley thought he was about to fall in line with the litany of great running backs Madison has produced over the years, a list that included his close friend Justin Goodwin, currently at Rutgers.
In the final game of the 2014 season, Mobley rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Dodgers to a big win over Thanksgiving Day rival Millburn. It made sense to think that as a junior, Mobley would fall right into that big-time back role again as a senior, especially after his Turkey Day performance.
Then, as the 2015 season began, it was more of the same. Mobley rushed for 110 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown, leading the Dodgers to a lopsided victory over Mountain Lakes, ending the Herd’s winning streak at 24 straight games.
But then Mobley’s chances to carry the ball started to evaporate and eventually there were none. He was moved to a wide receiver role.
Also on defense, Mobley was shifted from linebacker, where he was comfortable and where he played last year, to cornerback.
“I knew it wasn’t easy, but I knew it was the best thing for the team,” Mobley said. “Right when it happened, it was weird for me. I didn’t know how to take it. But then I realized that we had other running backs who were just as talented.It was a bit of an adjustment, becoming more of a receiving back. I always liked catching the ball. It’s really what I excel at. It was a move that did benefit us.
Added Mobley, “As the season went on, I knew that there was something wrong with our defense. Something wasn’t clicking. So I was moved and it worked out for the better. I put two years in and I was always a linebacker, but I knew I could excel at cornerback. So I moved from linebacker to cornerback. I’d say it worked out well.”
Madison head coach Chris Kubik said Mobley has done yeoman work in changing positions at a late stage in his life.
“He’s done a great job with it,” Kubik said. “It was what we really needed him to do. So we moved him to the secondary and that has enabled him to do other things. He’s really been solid at cornerback. He’s performed big as the games got bigger. We’ve put him in a position where he’s able to shut people down. Sometimes, you have to make a sacrifice for the betterment of the team. It’s definitely not easy to do that.”
The cornerback Mobley will be severely tested Thursday night, when the Dodgers take on Rutherford for the NJSIAA North 2, Group II championship at MetLife Stadium at 5 p.m.
The Bulldogs feature a no-huddle, high-powered passing attack, which means Mobley has to be on his toes from the outset.
“There’s something about playing corner that brings out the best in me,” Mobley said. “It’s mano-a-mano, just me against the guy I’m matched up with. I like that.”
Mobley also doesn’t mind being the guy who really didn’t have a set position until a few weeks ago.
“I just like being an athlete,” Mobley said. “I didn’t like not having a position, but I knew I would eventually play. Just get the ball to me in space with a little blocking and I’m good. I’m really not that selfish and I’m not into stats. So I didn’t care where I was playing. There’s something about being on a team in the sport of football. It’s all about what we do, not what I do. As long as we get to our goal, then I’m having just as much fun.”
Mobley has caught 13 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, the latest coming on a 39-yard screen pass from Nick Coviello in the Dodgers’ 34-14 win over Millburn Thanksgiving Day. He’s rushed for 354 yards and three touchdowns and on defense, Mobley has a team-high three interceptions. He’s definitely making his presence felt, even if it’s at positions he definitely didn’t feel ready to compete. And how about going after something that his friend Goodwin attained three times?
“I remember the first one they won against Caldwell, I was in sixth grade and I was one of the water boys,” Mobley said. “It was great to be around. It was amazing to see a group of guys play with so much passion. I just kept saying that I hope to get there one day. I knew that team was special. I just thought that winning a state championship was something we could do.”