There's little question Golden West's football players are enjoying practice more this week than last.
Golden West started the season with a 42-14 loss to Long Beach that left the team and first-year Coach Dennis Dixon at an emotional low.
But the Rustlers bounced back Saturday to beat Pasadena, 24-17.
"It was really important," Dixon said of the victory. "The kids played really hard."
When Dixon took over at Golden West last spring, he made opening up the offense a top priority.
His said one of his goals was to throw 40 passes a game and Saturday the Rustlers had more than that.
Brian Schneider was 19 of 39 for 221 yards and Dan Blathy was four of five for 72 yards.
B.J. Crabtree, a tight end, caught nine passes for 94 yards and wide receiver Wesley Morris had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.
Golden West also got a strong performance from the defense, which gave up six touchdown passes in the loss to Long Beach.
Golden West forced a fumble and stopped Pasadena on downs on the Lancers' final two possessions.
The Rustlers play host to San Diego Mesa (0-1) Saturday at Orange Coast. The game starts at 7 p.m.
"We have a real young team," Dixon said. "The guys just need to learn to play four hard quarters."
Football poll: El Camino (1-0), which plays host to Fullerton (0-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday, is the top-ranked team in the Southland.
Bakersfield (1-0) is second, Long Beach (2-0) third, Los Angeles Valley (2-0) fourth, Palomar (1-0) fifth, San Bernardino Valley (2-0) sixth, Cerritos (1-0) seventh, Moorpark (2-0) eighth, Rancho Santiago (0-1) ninth and Mt. San Antonio (1-0) 10th.
In other Saturday games: Palomar plays Rancho Santiago at Santa Ana Stadium at 1 p.m. and Saddleback (0-1) is at Cerritos at 7 p.m.
Cross-country: There should be a pretty good field at Fairview Regional Park Saturday in Costa Mesa. That's the site of the Southern California preview run, starting at 10 a.m.
More than 30 colleges have entered men's and women's teams in the race, which will be run on the same course as the Southern California championship race Oct. 28.
Because of the large field, teams will be limited to seven runners for each race, but there also will be a pair of open races.
Among the key teams missing from the field will be Rancho Santiago and Riverside.
The Rancho Santiago men's team is coming off team victories in the Fresno Invitational (Sept. 9) and the Orange Empire Conference preview run (Sept. 16).
Jose Rangel of Rancho Santiago has won the individual title in each race.
"We just need a week off," Rancho Santiago Coach Al Siddons said. "I think we're in pretty good shape, but I hope we improve as the season goes along."
Riverside, which won the women's race at the Orange Empire preview, is taking part in a race at UC Riverside.
Both races at the conference preview run got temporarily off course at Huntington Beach Central Park. To help prevent that from happening Saturday, the runners will be led by a bicyclist.
Women's volleyball showdown: Golden West and Cerritos, the only teams to win State titles in the last five seasons, meet in a nonconference match at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Golden West won State titles in 1990 and 1991, Cerritos won it in 1992 and Golden West came back to win titles in 1993 and last season.
Cypress' David Wheeler, a freshman heavyweight, won the gold medal at the San Bernardino wrestling meet Saturday. Wheeler was 4-0 with four pins. Golden West's David Afoa (158 pounds) and Tito Ortiz (190) were also 4-0 in the meet . . . Sean Diskin scored three goals as Fullerton won the Palomar men's soccer tournament. He had the goal Saturday in a 1-0 victory over Palomar and scored twice Sunday as the Hornets beat Riverside, 3-1.