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Concussions Led Redbank Valley’s Clouse From Football to Record-Breaker in Soccer

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) — In his heart, Owen Clouse didn’t want to quit playing football.

His head, though, had other plans.

By the age of 10, Clouse had already suffered three concussions while playing youth football. After the third, his father, Alan, said enough is enough.

“My dad didn’t want me to play anymore,” Clouse said. “I was really bummed because I really liked football.”

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A quarterback on those youth teams, Clouse excelled because of his speed, gashing defenses with his legs as well as his arm.

With his football career over, Clouse was idle for a year in the fall before deciding to give soccer a try. It seemed like a logical choice and a sport where he could put his speed to good use.

He was right. Just four years later, Clouse is making history for the Redbank Valley boys soccer team.

On Monday night, the sophomore forward scored four goals in a wild 8-4 win over Punxsutawney. That gave him 34 on the season, which broke the single-season record at the school that had stood for 20 years.

“It feels great,” Clouse said. “I mean, that record was there for about 20 years or something. That means a lot to break it.”

Keith Ochs scored 32 goals in 2001.

Clouse began playing soccer much later than many of his teammates. But in a short time, he’s become one of the best players in District 9.

“I joke with him all the time, saying he could be a superstar in anything he wants,” said first-year Redbank Valley soccer coach Ty Scott, who was an assistant under AJ Blose for four years before taking over the program. “I’m so glad he chose soccer.

“It’s crazy, because when I played and when I was in his grade, I had nine years of experience,” Scott added. “He’s blown my goals and assists out of the water already. He’s just going to get better.”

How much better? Scott can’t even quantify it.

Clouse only found the net four times last season as a freshman, but the raw skills were there for so much more. Clouse dedicated himself in the offseason to improve some of the finer skills of the game, namely ballhandling and using his left foot, and the results have been breathtaking.

In fact, Clouse didn’t think breaking such a long-standing mark was even in the realm of possibility when the season started.

“I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Clouse said. “The game that stood out was when I scored seven goals (the first time) against Punxsy. That’s when I thought I had a chance.”

Blose figured the record wasn’t going to last. He could see how talented Clouse was last season. He just hoped the burgeoning star wouldn’t try to go back to football like his twin brother, Mason, did.

“I could tell he was the best prospect that I honestly have ever coached,” Blose said. “He was definitely the best player on my team last year as far as giving 110% all the time. I told Ty we need to keep him here.”

Clouse stayed. He is also blessed with a wealth of talent around him, which has given him ample opportunities to fill up the stat sheet.

Clouse had scored a number of goals on headers off corner kicks this season. Ty Carrier takes those, and he is also a single-season record-holder with 18 assists this year.

“I always say it’s the Ty to Clouse connection,” Scott said. “Ty always puts it in the perfect area and Clouse just goes and gets it. It’s impressive.”

Redbank (10-6) is also playing well right now with one of the most dangerous attacks around. The Bulldogs are scoring goals at a prodigious rate, which bodes well for them as the playoffs approach.

“I feel like we’re just getting better and better,” Scott said. “Hopefully we can make a run. I felt like at the beginning of the year we could surprise some people.”

Clouse thinks the best is yet to come — for himself and the team.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Clouse said. “We’ve made the playoffs already. We’re just trying to win these last few games for better seeding.”

As impressive as Clouse has been, Scott said he is just scratching the surface on what he can ultimately do in the sport.

“He doesn’t shoot the long ball,” Scott said. “He had one against (Clarion-Limestone) that was very pretty. And if he gets that, it would be like Steph Curry on the soccer field.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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