Neino Robinson was confident.
After sitting out the majority of Northview's state semifinal victory against Liberty County last week, the junior defensive back and punt returner came up huge in the Chiefs' 42-21 Class 1A state championship victory over Trenton.
Robinson did it all, returning a kickoff for a touchdown, pulling down an interception and throwing in three tackles and a pass breakup.
"It's not me, it's my teammates," the humble star said. "They did a great job blocking for me (on the kickoff), and I just make things happen on special teams."
Even when he didn't have the ball, Robinson was impacting the game. After a beautiful Michael Smith punt that had Northview pinned on its own 1 was called back for an illegal formation, disaster struck for Trenton. Chad Smith picked up a blocked punt by Arkelle Elliot and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown.
The play put the Chiefs up 14-0 in the second quarter and was set up by the Tigers trying to keep the ball out of Robinson's hands.
"They know he's a threat," Elliot said of Robinson. "They know when he gets it, it's off to the races."
Moments later, Robinson was back at work, this time with an interception returned for a touchdown. The score was called back because of a penalty, but the Chiefs started at the Tigers' 13 and scored four plays later to take a 21-0 halftime lead.
"I think they had a really good running game, but in the end, the quarterback just couldn't throw it well under pressure," Robinson said. "We just put pressure on him, and I was able to make the interception."
Trenton got back in the game with a touchdown on its first drive of the second half, but Robinson quickly squashed that momentum. After the Tigers kicked the ball out of bounds twice to avoid giving the playmaker a chance, they finally were forced to give him the ball.
Robinson answered, as he has so many times this season. After taking a moment to survey the field and his blockers, the speedster stutter-stepped and took off. Seventy-nine yards later, he was in the end zone and Robinson's teammates were ready to celebrate.
"As soon as he does that little stutter-step, I just smile and go get ready for the kickoff," Northview linebacker Corry Baggett said. "You just know he's gonna break it for some good yardage."
For Northview coach Sid Wheatley, the decision to make Trenton kick to Robinson was easy.
"The guy, you just really don't want to kick it to him. I don't care who you are," Wheatley said. "It's amazing, the versatility, the lateral movement he's got.
"I bet some people in the stands were asking why I was backing them up again (to rekick). Fortunately, they kicked it deep, and Neino did what he does."
Wheatley doesn't refer to Robinson as an athlete, instead calling him a football player.
His lock-down coverage in the secondary was equally important in the Chiefs' first state championship win, holding the Tigers to 16 passing yards.
Northview had more interceptions (three) than Trenton had completions (two).
"He's a tremendous football player; him and Neiko (Robinson), and really all those defensive backs are great when the ball's in the air," Wheatley said. "They're tremendous."