VINELAND, New Jersey (WPVI) — Vineland High School head football coach Dan Russo remained glued to last weekend’s AFC championship game, paying attention to one player in particular.
“I saw him get that touchdown and thought holding the call was a bit finicky!” Russo said. “He bounced back and helped the Chiefs get that big first down and had some really good plays.”
He’s talking about 23-year-old Isiah Pacheco of Vineland, NJ, now headed to the Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs.
But before turning pro, Pacheco had an illustrious career as Vineland’s quarterback.
“As a freshman, the seniors basically voted him captain,” Russo said. “So he was captain for four years.”
Isiah Pacheco with Vineland High School head football coach Dan Russo
Russo first met Pacheco when he was 13 playing in a local youth soccer program.
“There were schools lining up that wanted to have him in high school, so we were pretty lucky that he chose Vineland High School to stay home. He’s from Vineland,” Russo said.
Pacheco went on to play at Rutgers University, ranked 7th on the school’s all-time list.
He was drafted by the Chiefs last year as a 7th round draft pick and is now having a tremendous rookie season.
Action News spoke to Pacheco shortly before the 2022 draft.
“Being able to go back and tell the guys, being a guy from New Jersey and Vineland that he’s done it, you’re able to do that,” Pacheco said.
He is known for his speed on the field, but was also named Mr. Vineland 2018, winning the senior school’s annual competition.
In his first year in the NFL, Pacheco quickly made his way back to running again.
The coaches at his university are watching with pride.
“Isiah was tearing down walls and putting up ceilings when he was a kid,” said Vineland Athletic director Don Robbins. “But the level he’s competing at right now – it’s nothing but pride. Nothing but pride.”
This is the second year in a row that a former Vineland player has gone to the Super Bowl.
Last year, Vineland alum Jamil Demby was on the roster for the LA Rams.
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