Hylton left its offense last season in the hands of quarterback Tristen Simmons. Simmons left his passes in the hands of then-seniors Deon Butler and Dominique Mitchell. Butler and Mitchell, on 22 occasions, left the ball in the hands of the officials after catching touchdown passes.

The chain of command worked to the tune of a 12-1 record and sixth consecutive Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 title for the Bulldogs.

But of Simmons's 102 completions last year, 100 went to players no longer in the program. If the senior is concerned, he's not showing it. After all, Butler and Mitchell were not known as receivers before the 2003 season.

"We have a few new guys and we have some old veteran receivers that no one really knows about, because Dominique and Deon were so effective," said Simmons, who as a first-year starter last fall averaged 19.3 yards per completion and was named the region's offensive player of the year.

"Being that we don't have maybe the height of a Dominique or the speed of a Deon, it might not be going straight downfield going to the end zone. It might be a zigzag or two to get to the inside or outside."

Simmons and his new receivers played in seven-on-seven games this summer to work out their timing. Marshall Dill, a junior transfer from Forest Park, could be a primary target, along with seniors J.P. Pannell, Rubin Scott, Carlos Segarra, Antonio Smith and Brandon Wilson.

Despite the new receivers, the offense is farther along than a defense that must replace all 11 starters.

"With a number of wideouts, and with another year in the passing game, I can see us running four [wide receivers], just taking the passing game to the next level," said Hylton third-year coach Lou Sorrentino, whose team also returns its two leading rushers and a veteran line. "I like where we are right now . . . as far as the flexibility on offense."

The Bulldogs certainly had that flexibility last year -- 1,992 rushing yards and 1,966 passing yards. The year before, when Hylton won its third Division 6 state title in five years, the Bulldogs threw for 499 yards and ran for 3,053.

-- Preston Williams

Hylton quarterback Tristen Simmons threw for 23 touchdowns and nearly 2,000 yards a year ago.