SAN DIEGO — As is often the case when a new coach takes over a high school football program, Dave Lay wasn't sure what to expect when he became Orange Glen's coach at the beginning of this season.
Lay's players, however, knew what to expect.
They're not at all surprised to be meeting top-ranked Point Loma in a San Diego Section 3-A quarterfinal game at 7:30 tonight at Mesa College.
"The kids set high goals for themselves this season," Lay said. "They said they were going to get to the stadium (for the section championship game)."
Coming into this season, there was little to suggest that Orange Glen would even be a playoff team. The last time the school made the playoffs was in 1977, and that year Orange Glen was defeated in the 3-A semifinals by Sweetwater.
Lay, of all people, was the coach of the Sweetwater team that beat the Patriots.
"It's kind of funny, but I had forgotten all about that until we reached the playoffs this year," he said. "All of a sudden, people were looking to see the last time Orange Glen had made it."
This season, Orange Glen (8-3-1) started slowly, losing its first two Palomar League games. But, led by the county's second-leading passer, Sean Gousha, Orange Glen won three straight games to secure an at-large playoff berth.
The Patriots survived a tie-breaker to beat Chula Vista, 27-26, and advance to the second round.
Point Loma, meanwhile, has shown no weaknesses while rolling to the City Eastern League championship with a 10-0 record.
Bennie Edens, in his 33rd year as the Pointers' coach, had said before the season started that this could be one of his most talented teams.
Still, Point Loma was missing from all of the preseason rankings.
Point Loma used a strong defense and the running of halfback Kelby Downey to win its first six games, but then Downey went down with an knee injury.
The Pointers didn't miss a beat, however, as quarterback Mike Bennett took over the focus of the offense and led Point Loma to three straight victories.
Then came an end-of-the-season showdown with No. 3-ranked Morse for the league championship and Downey returned, scoring the winning touchdown in a 14-13 Pointer victory on a 20-yard run in the third quarter.