Vineland coach Dan Russo excited for his former player Isiah Pacheco playing in the Super Bowl

by Marc Narducci | Feb 11, 2023
Vineland coach Dan Russo excited for his former player Isiah Pacheco playing in the Super Bowl
Dan Russo knows how excited the Delaware Valley is about the Eagles’ Super Bowl appearance, but the Vineland High football coach and many in the town won’t be rooting for the local team.

That’s because one of the Chief offensive threats for Kansas City is rookie running back Isiah Pacheco, a 2018 Vineland High graduate, who Russo coached in high school.

Russo has remained close to Pacheco. In fact, the two talked via face time on the Tuesday after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20 in the AFC championship game to earn their Super Bowl berth.

“We talk all the time and the other night I was congratulating him and thanking him for being part of our program because he had a lot of choices coming out of high school,” Russo said. “And he was thanking me for the things I did for him as well.”

Even though Pacheco was an unsung seventh round draft choice out of Rutgers, Russo isn’t surprised at his immediate success. This season he rushed for 830 yards (4.9 avg.) and five touchdowns during the regular season, while adding 13 receptions for 130 yards. In the two postseason games, Pacheco has rushed for 121 yards (5.5 avg.) and caught six passes for 65 yards.

“He is playing great and I saw his continued progress in high school and college and felt that with the Chiefs and that offense, he would o great things,” Russo said. “He adds electricity to the program, and everybody feeds off his energy.”

As a senior at Vineland Pacheco was a dominant dual threat quarterback. He rushed for 1,414 yards (9.8 avg.) and 18 touchdowns. Pacheco also completed 43 of 81 for 598 yards and three touchdowns.

There was no shortage of big-time schools interested in Pacheco.

“Ryan Day was offensive coordinator at Ohio State and he sat in my office recruiting Isiah,” Russo said of the current Ohio State head coach. “He wanted him to play cornerback.”

Pacheco wanted to be a running back and Rutgers was more than happy to use him in that capacity. Russo said the choice came down to Rutgers, Pitt and Syracuse.

“He wanted to stay close to home so his family could watch him,” Russo said. “He was also loyal to his hometown and he is such a loyal person.”

At Rutgers Pacheco rushed for 2,442 yards and 18 touchdowns in his four seasons.

Now he is concluding his outstanding rookie season in the Super Bowl.

Russo says he has nothing against the Eagles, but he is a big Chiefs fans and so are many others in Vineland.

“It is all everybody is talking about in Vineland,” Russo said. “They have a lot of Eagles fans and they say it is a win-win, with many people around here being happy no matter what the outcome is.”

Russo will only be happy with one outcome. He is so excited about Pacheco playing in the Super Bowl that he is going to attend the game in Glendale Arizona.

“I am so happy for him and how things have gone,” Russo said. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person.”

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Author: Marc Narducci

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