How many points will the Bulldogs score this season, considering that they bring back a 1,900-yard passer, their two leading rushers and most of the 2003 starting offensive line? Probably a lot.
And how many points will they give up, considering they lost all 11 defensive starters? Probably not many. When a team has won six consecutive Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 titles, it is accustomed to retooling from year to year.
But there's no doubt that the offense, keyed by quarterback Tristen Simmons and running back Courtney Anderson but without any proven receivers, is ahead of the defense at this point. At one recent practice, Coach Lou Sorrentino thought the defensive players' grasp of the scheme had improved but perhaps at the expense of their emotion. They are still trying to mesh the two.
"It's always a little uneasy when guys haven't been out there on the Friday nights and you're wondering how they're going to respond to that," said Sorrentino, who has six new assistant coaches this season. "But I look back to last year, and really we only had two returning starters on offense. I thought we could have a good offense, and it turned out we did. Defensively, I feel the same way [this season]. I think the components are there."
Among the players expected to lead the defense are senior lineman Jamar Jackson, junior linebacker Aaron Adusei, sophomore linebacker Tabian Johnson (a defensive back at Gar-Field last season) and senior defensive backs A.J. Murray and Antonio Smith.
Although the Bulldogs ran on 68 percent of their downs last season, they achieved remarkable balance on offense -- 1,992 rushing yards and 1,966 passing.