SAN DIEGO -- Cathedral Catholic junior quarterback DJ Ralph led the Dons to the Division 1-AA state football championship game in his first season as a starter, but his path to success came from a precise plan.
Cathedral Catholic's football season continues as the Dons prepare to bring home a third state title.
"It feels amazing and yeah, we're not done and this is what we've worked for all off season," said DJ Ralph.
After suffering a loss in week one against La Costa Canyon, the Dons posted a 12-1 record, went undefeated in league play and won the Open Division, all thanks to the help of first year quarterback Ralph.
"Coming to a new school it's obviously going to be a little tough at first," said Ralph. "But the team just really accepted me coming in and I just created a bond with them. All season we've just got ready together and just got ready for the season."
Ralph's decision to transfer from El Camino to Cathedral seemed natural. After all, his dad Jerry is an assistant coach who went to Uni High School with Dons head coach Sean Doyle.
"Well, we both graduated together and then we started coaching together," said J. Ralph. "I coached at Uni for five years and then I started to become a head coach and traveled around and had success and Sean and I had great games against each other and now we're back together, it's really great."
"He doesn't treat me different than anyone else and we have a really good bond and he's a great coach," said DJ. "He's really helped me my whole life. He's a great dad and a great coach."
The father-son duo claim living under the same roof and playing alongside one another doesn't take the toll one might expect.
"He's never really been the type to yell if you're not doing well," said DJ. "He just really lets me play and he doesn't try to force anything or control anything."
"We got a pretty good little drive home so that's when he puts on his headphones and tunes dad out," said J. Ralph.
DJ threw nearly 1,200 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception all season.
"He's unbelievable," said senior running back Josh Lewis. "Great talent, great guy, great locker room guy. He's just been motivating us and done just a really good job of stepping in."
"I feel like all the off season work that our coaches have put us through has really prepared me and just having such good teammates, to go into the game with me knowing their assignment makes it a lot easier for me," said DJ.
And makes for one proud dad.
"To be the leader of the team as a quarterback is very gratifying and makes you extremely proud," said J. Ralph.