There was plenty riding on the line Saturday, namely, the future of its season, for the Golden West College football team.
The Rustlers passed that test with flying colors, and their 30-6 win in the regular-season finale earned the program two milestones.
First, the victory was the ninth of the season for the Rustlers, a new school record for most wins in a regular season. The previous record had been eight wins set by the 1977 team.
No Golden West team has won 10 games in a season but the Rustlers will get a shot at that mark when they travel to Riverside Community College Saturday to face Riverside at 6 p.m. in the Southern California Bowl.
Golden West is 9-1 overall and finished second in the Southern California Conference (National Division). The Rustlers were awarded the at-large berth to the four-team Southern California region playoffs.
Southern California Conference champion Fullerton (10-0), Central Conference champ Riverside (9-1), and Northern Conference winner College of the Canyons (8-2), received the three automatic postseason bids.
Golden West, whose only loss came to top-ranked Fullerton, finished the regular season at No. 3 in the Southern California rankings.
Riverside, whose only loss also is to Fullerton, is ranked second.
"It's been a great season, so far," Golden West Coach Nick Mitchell said. "Our defense is excellent and has played lights out, all year. Our kicking game has been huge for us, as well. We have excellent kickers. Our offense has also been putting points up on the board. We hired John Shipp and he has been really instrumental in our success this season."
Shipp, who had been the head coach at Fountain Valley High through the 2012 season, serves as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Rustlers. Golden West quarterback Chris d 'Entremont started last year for Shipp at Fountain Valley.
"Chris has gotten better week after week and as our season has progressed, so has he," Mitchell said. "It's a huge adjustment, going from high school, and I know how good the Sunset League is, to playing at this level, but he has adapted very well. He's done an admirable job running our offense and managing the game."
The Golden West offense is averaging 35.5 points per game which ranks 10th in Southern California, and 20th in the state. The Rustlers defense ranks second, overall, in the state. It has given up an average of 16.5 points (ranks No. 2) and 312 yards per game, and leads the state in sacks on the season at 44.
Punter Brett Beighton (Los Alamitos High) and kicker Peter Marquez (Costa Mesa High) are first-team all-conference selections.
"We have a tough one Saturday at Riverside," Mitchell said. "They are too good. They are super-fast, athletic, and very physical. Next to Fullerton, they will be one of our toughest tests."
The winner of the Golden West-Riverside game Saturday advances to face either top-seed Fullerton or No. 4-seed College of the Canyons in the Southern California championship game Nov. 30. Fullerton plays host to College of the Canyon Saturday.
The Southern California champion will meet the Northern California champion, Butte or Fresno City, in the California Community College State Championship Game Dec. 14.
Rustlers Water Polo headed to state
The Golden West College women's and men's water polo teams are headed to the State Championships.
The women's team, undefeated at 27-0, is the top seed in the tournament and opens with a 2:15 p.m. game against Sierra College at 2:15 p.m. Friday at Riverside Community College.
The men's team (23-3) begins tournament play at 10:30 a.m. against West Valley.
The Golden West women's team won the Southern California championship regional by defeating L.A. Pierce (14-7), L.A. Valley (15-2), and Riverside (10-8), to qualify for the state tournament. The men's team went 2-1 in its regional, defeating Cerritos (13-9) and Grossmont (13-7), before falling to Long Beach City College (8-2) in the final.
The Golden West men's team has won the last two state championships.