Josh Blose had found himself a nice niche on the Littlestown boys’ soccer team in his first two years in high school.
As a sophomore, he’d worked his way into a starting role in the midfield and recorded seven goals in the first two seasons combined.
Heading into his junior year, however, head coach Brett Powell decided to make a change. He and his assistants saw Blose’s physical abilities and eye for goal and decided he would be better served by making the move to striker.
“He started out as a midfielder as a freshman and sophomore and was as much a creator as a goal scorer, and he got plenty of assists,” Powell said. “This year we moved him to striker and it really worked out. He looked more comfortable there. Part of it was he could hold up play, and then he also has good pace.”
The move paid off in a big way.
Blose had a remarkable junior season for the Thunderbolts, scoring a school-record 19 goals to give a school-record 26 goals in his career. He scored four of those goals in a victory over Biglerville and recorded four separate hat tricks on the season.
“He can pretty much finish any chance he gets,” Powell said of his star striker. “If other guys can create those opportunities for him, he will finish the job. That’s a huge asset to have.”
Powell added that he knew the switch from midfield to striker was going to be a successful one almost immediately.
“In the first game of the season he scored four goals against Biglerville and he just looked so comfortable there,” he said. “We knew right away that it was probably a good fit.”
Blose, meanwhile, feels the biggest difference between this season and last was his confidence, which came largely with the position change.
“This season my confidence increased along with my ability to remain focused and composed when approaching the final third of the field,” he said. “The transition in position this year changed my focus to finding more opportunities to finish the play. As a midfielder, my focus tended to be more split on setting up the play and defending.”
While he’s made large strides, both Powell and Blose feel the talismanic striker could still make strides.
“I think that he could still improve on his decision making and he could get even better,” Powell said. “If we could get that goal scoring spread around a little bit it would be better for him. It would take the pressure off of him and allow him to improve his game in other areas.”
To his credit, Blose is aware of his shortcoming and said that while he’s very happy with the improvement he showed and the obvious results, he’s still working to improve in those other areas.
“I am working on improving my ball control and ability to make quicker transitions in support of the defense,” he said. “As the opponents began to man-mark me more often I tried to use the opportunity to draw the defenders out and get the ball to my teammates in open space.”
But it’s not just his individual contributions that helped the Thunderbolts to a 5-7 record. Powell said that Blose’s abilities and confidence both wore off on his teammates.
“That’s something that was a huge change for us this year,” he said. “We’ve struggled offensively the last few years, so him having the ball up top is big for us. Not only his goal scoring, but his hold-up play to release some pressure from the defense. As a team, if we’d go down a goal in the past, that would be something that is very difficult for us mentally. With Josh this year, we knew that if we got behind we were still in the game.”
Moving forward, Blose wants to play collegiately, though he says he’s yet to hear from any specific schools. Both he and Powell, however, feel that the opportunities will come with enough hard work.
“Josh knows he has the ability to do anything he sets his mind to,” Powell said. “He’s got that confidence and that attitude, so the sky is really the limit for him.”