Sometime on Sunday afternoon, if things go right, Mike Alberto might let his emotions get the best of him.
The Haddonfield senior has spent the football season on the tightrope - walking the thin line between playing the game with fire and keeping his cool.
"I'm the quarterback. I know I have to stay poised," Alberto said on the brink of his last game for the Bulldogs.
Alberto has led Haddonfield to an 11-0 record and a spot in the South Jersey Group 2 title game against archrival West Deptford at noon Sunday at Rowan University.
He has passed for 1,153 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has run for 291 yards and four touchdowns.
He has been living a dream that started to ferment in his mind as a five-year-old and stayed deep in the background through most of his high school career.
"It was a little frustrating at times," Alberto said of his lack of playing time as a quarterback at the varsity level through his first three years in the Haddonfield program. "But I got the opportunity to help the team in other ways, and I knew I would get my chance, eventually.
"I worked as hard as I could and learned as much as I could so that if I got the chance, I would seize it."
When offseason workouts began in earnest last summer, Alberto wasn't a lock to be the starting quarterback. And even after he won the job, he still was a wild card, an unknown factor.
"It's an absolute credit to his work ethic," Haddonfield coach Frank DeLano said. "He won the job. It was up for grabs, and he made it his and ran with it."
Just 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Alberto has emerged in his first year at quarterback as a leader of a Haddonfield team loaded with talent and experience.
Some of that has been a function of the position. Some has been a result of his productive play, especially those 18 touchdown passes.
"He's not a game-manager; he's made plays," DeLano said.
Alberto also has become a leader by virtue of his day-to-day, play-to-play determination.
"He works so hard and he has the personality that is perfect for a quarterback," DeLano said.
At times, Alberto has fought to keep his emotions in check. He has been aware of the need for a calm, measured approach, especially during tough times.
He likely will need to keep an icy demeanor Sunday, as Haddonfield battles West Deptford for the second time this season and for the 11th time since 2009 in a renewal of the richest rivalry in South Jersey football.
But if Haddonfield finds a way to win and becomes the first team in program history to finish 12-0, Alberto won't need to play it cool anymore.
"It's bittersweet to think this is the end," Alberto said. "But if we can do it, we'll be so excited. We'll be a team that will live forever."