Eric Quinto fills a number of roles for the No. 1-ranked and unbeaten T.C. Williams football team.
In addition to his duties as a receiver and a defensive end, the 6-foot, 180-pound all-Met senior serves as team big brother, psychologist, player-coach and team-appointed morale man.
"The kids call him Mr. Morale," said Coach Glenn Furman, whose 13-0 team will meet Hampton for the Virginia AAA championship Saturday at the University of Virginia's Scott Stadium. "He's the defensive captain and practices as if it's the last day he'll play football. He growls when he runs wind sprints, dives for balls in practice and is just having a good time out there. He's a throwback to the old days."
"I just want to win," said Quinto, a three-year starter, "and going all out every day is the only way I know how to play the game. And I enjoy doing it. I try to make the big plays on the field to get the enthusiasm flowing. That's me.
"We have a senior team and this is our last game together. We worked hard to get here and this is the final leg of our three goals. We won the district and the region and we feel we can win the state. As hard as I've played, I'm still not satisfied."
Quinto is second on the team in receptions, behind two-time all-Met Shawn McNeil, and has five touchdown catches. He is second in tackles (behind all-Met Sidney Ellis), has 14 sacks and seven fumble recoveries.
"He is one of those rare individuals who can also lead by example," Furman said. "He always seems to come up with the big hit, make the key block or say the right thing. Sometimes, he'll stop by the coaches' office and just come in and shake everyone's hand. He's enjoying life."
And football. Most teams have elected to run away from Quinto -- and right into either Kevin Boston or Doug Matthews. Pulaski County tried last week and it resulted in a big hit by Matthews and a fumble recovery and touchdown run by cornerback Lamont Windsor in the Titans' 13-0 semifinal victory.
"Pulaski County was a good team. We had to fight them all game and depend on our defense," Quinto said. "It was time fo forget the fans, the rankings and what we had accomplished. We had to block out all those things and go for it."
A popular figure in the school, Quinto wants to end his high school playing days the way he started -- on a positive note. Defeating Hampton is the way to accomplish that.
"You know I'm going to give 110 percent for this one," he said. "I don't know any other way."