Vince German realized he needed to make some changes if was going to play tight end, which has proven to be an important position in the Licking Valley High School football team's passing attack.

Vince German realized he needed to make some changes if was going to play tight end, which has proven to be an important position in the Licking Valley High School football team's passing attack.

Michael Kuhlwein started at that spot the past two seasons, catching 18 passes for 434 yards and a team-high five touchdowns a year ago as the Panthers reached the Division III state final. He was first-team all-district and honorable mention all-state. Before him there was Drew McClain and others, including Cody Caughenbaugh, as a decade of dominance began when he was a senior in 2000. McClain played at 185 pounds, and Kuhlwein and Caughenbaugh played at 195.

German, on the other hand, started at defensive end last year as a junior and was listed on the roster at 6-foot-1, 250.

"Losing a guy like Kuhlwein, that's tough because he was one of our speed guys," German said. "I wasn't nearly as fast so I knew I was going to have to drop some weight and I have, about 20 pounds now. I just wanted to slim down and be in better shape."

German, a potential Division I recruit most likely on defense, led the Panthers with 18 receptions for 390 yards and six touchdowns entering last Friday's regular-season finale against Columbus Academy .

"He took it upon himself to get quicker," coach Randy Baughman said. "He's playing 15 or 20 pounds lighter. That's really improved his speed and allowed us to do more with him. He can go out wide in our spread (offense), too, and that creates matchup problems with a cornerback."

The weight loss, which German said came through weightlifting and running one mile every other day last spring and summer, does present a paradox of sorts, however. One of his brothers, Tim, who was a first-team all-state offensive lineman as a senior at Licking Valley last year, signed to play at Bowling Green and is going through a typical period of adjustment period.

"The first thing (college coaches) usually do is try to put weight on you," German said. "My brother, who is, like, 300 pounds anyway, they're even putting weight on him."

German has made a visit to Ohio University, and Baughman said he believes German can play at the Division I level. The Falcons also showed interest while recruiting his brother last year.

"I think he's that kind of a kid," Baughman said. "We're sending out film. There are no offers yet but hopefully they'll come, maybe some from the (Mid-American Conference)."

German was second-team all-district last year on defense, and this year's unit has been one of Licking County 's best again. He also placekicks and kicks off. Punts are about the only time he isn't on the field, although that wasn't the case earlier this season.

"I was playing on all the special teams," German said.

He converted 39 times on 46 extra-point attempts through nine games and added three field goals. Last year, he kicked a 46-yard field goal during a 31-0 victory over Bexley.

He became a kicker almost by accident and is a throwback with a straight-on style.

"They had kicking tryouts my freshman year," German said, pausing before before adding, "I guess I won."

German represents the end of an era at Licking Valley. His oldest brother also played there and now serves as an assistant freshmen coach under their father, Bob. An uncle, Dan, is the freshman coach at Newark. Another uncle, Tim, is Licking Valley 's defensive coordinator.

With a full beard, German looks quite a bit like one of his cousins, Jake, another star of last year's state runner-up team as a senior who now is playing at Muskingum.

"I'm the last of the Germans for now," Vince said.

He wants to leave a legacy none of his family members could. The Panthers are playoff bound for the eighth time this decade and 12th time overall. The state final is Nov. 29 in Canton's Fawcett Stadium, site of last year's 17-10 loss to Big Walnut.

"We have some unfinished business up in Canton ," German said.