Westfall High School junior quarterback D.J. Cain knows he's fortunate. “Every
team has playmakers,” Cain said. “The difference with us is God has
blessed us with a basket full of playmakers who are very hard workers. I'm fortunate to have a lot of weapons to work with.” Much like a musician conducting a large orchestra, Cain has brought the pieces together.
WILLIAMSPORT — With an arsenal of firepower large enough to arm a small country, Westfall High School junior quarterback DJ Cain knows he's fortunate.
“Every team has playmakers,” Cain said. “The difference with us is God has blessed us with a basket full of playmakers who are very hard workers.
“I'm fortunate to have a lot of weapons to work with.”
Much like a musician conducting a large orchestra, Cain has brought the pieces together. The first-year Westfall signal caller has accounted for nearly 2,700 total yards of offense, and is a big reason the Mustangs are playing in the Division IV state semifinals Saturday against Coldwater at Northmont High School.
Not bad for playing about 60-percent of the snaps during the regular-season due to the Mustangs having big leads in most of its contests.
Following the graduation of All-Ohio quarterback Kevin Smith after last season, the Mustangs were looking for a replacement to continue the lineage of standout signal callers at Westfall. The quarterback derby came down to Cain and senior quarterback Adam Keller through both scrimmages. Cain took the reigns of the position after Keller was hurt in a four-wheeler accident before the season started. Keller broke his left wrist, collarbone and eye socket.
“That was a terrible thing to happen to Adam,” Cain said. “To get into a wreck before your senior season, that has to be tough.
“He's been very supportive of me and has taken it well. It can't be easy to see a junior playing, but he has shown a lot of character and leadership. I really appreciate what he's done for me.”
Cain wasn't new to starting on Friday night, however. Before coming to Westfall, he was a two-year starter for Canal Winchester Harvest Prep. The experience of being a starting quarterback came in handy, according to Cain.
“Having the experience at quarterback coming in was a real advantage,” Cain said. “I didn't have to learn how to play (on a Friday night), I just had to learn the system.”
In his sophomore season at Harvest Prep, Cain was primarily a throwing quarterback. He completed 53-percent of his passes for 1,100 yards.
“I hardly ran the ball in my freshman and sophomore seasons,” Cain said. “Then in my last game of my sophomore year, I kind of discovered the run.
“I worked hard on getting faster and making better cuts. I also worked on my passing game by trying to make my arm stronger and make better reads.”
Cain worked hard during the preseason on learning the offense. He had an advantage by knowing many of his teammates from attending Westfall during a portion of his elementary years.
“Coach (Scott) Keller is a great guy and he worked with me a lot on getting to understand the offense,” Cain said. “I came in being the new link of the offense, but Jack Gose and Seth Hardin sat down with me and helped me learn what I needed.
“It also helped I knew most of the guys. Most people consider me a new kid around here, but I went to school with these guys back in elementary.”
As the season began, Cain steadily improved on the field. He completed 11-of-15 passes for 156 yards and a touchdown in a 35-0 win over Adena, and also added two runs to pay dirt. During the following week against Huntington, Cain completed 13-of-18 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns, while gaining 40 yards on six carries and another score.
“DJ is a very intelligent kid,” Westfall head coach Scott Keller said. “He had been in big games coming in here and he had to pick up our offense, which isn't the easiest thing in the world to do.
“At first, DJ saw 11 different parts and I don't think he saw the large picture with all the different parts. But as the season went along, he got more comfortable in the huddle and with what we were trying to do. Since that point, he has really taken off. He had a great game against Adena, but the Huntington game was where everything just seemed to click.”
“I was able to get into a good rhythm on offense at that point,” Cain said. “I was able to settle down, know where people were going to be and everything clicked.”
Since then, Keller has given Cain more reign of the offense, including making more checks at the line of scrimmage if he doesn't like a particular coverage.
The beat kept rolling for Cain during the playoffs.
He passed for 163 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-7 win over New Lexington during a regional quarterfinal game, and followed it up by rushing for 154 yards on 18 carries in a 48-28 win over Waverly in the regional semifinal.
Last week, Cain passed for 129 yards and threw two touchdown passes as Westfall claimed the regional championship with a 14-12 win over St. Clairsville.
“It's an unbelievable feeling advancing to this point,” Cain said. “But we feel only half the boulder has been lifted off our backs. We're in the Final Four, but at the beginning of the season we set a goal of trying to get a state championship.
“That's still our goal.”