KC Chiefs New Jersey native Isiah Pacheco heads to Super Bowl for second time, former high school coach reacts

(L) BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - JANUARY 28: Isiah Pacheco #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after the AFC championship game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on January 28, 2024 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Kara Durrette/Getty Im

Kansas City Chiefs running back and former South Jersey high school football star Isiah "Pop" Pacheco is making his second trip to the Super Bowl!

FOX 29’s Chris O’ Connell spoke to Pacheco’s former coach at Vineland High School, Dan Russo, who reflected on the NFL star’s tragic yet triumphant journey. 

Just a few years ago, Russo ran Vineland's varsity football program and coached one of the school's most successful players.

Pictures and newspaper clippings of the former Vineland around the school, stood out now Super Bowl Champion, Kansas City Chiefs running back, Isiah Pacheco.  

Back when he was walking the school’s halls, Pacheco was the star quarterback/running back lighting up the league, including helping the Fighting Clans win their first conference championship in more than 30 years. 

They know him around the area as "Pop".

"I can remember if he had the opportunity to run somebody over he would do his best to do that because he was playing against 18 or 19-year-old guys, and he was only 15," said Russo. "It’s just so exciting to see him and to see him do so well and take advantage of his opportunities." 

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Pacheco went on to play at Rutgers and then with Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs where he became one of the most powerful players at his position.

"First thing that comes to mind is his electricity, as you can see on the field. He’s such a talented player. Everyone feeds off that energy."

However, Pacheco’s road to the NFL took a tragic and horrible turn following the murders of two of his siblings in less than two years. 

His sister Celeste, who he considered his best friend, was shot to death. The year before, his 29-year-old brother was stabbed to death in Bridgeton. Pacheco honors them with tattoos on his arms. 

His former coach says the tragedies help shape the player and the man.

"Family first he said Coach I want to play, and I want to dedicate this to my brother and my sister at the time," said Russo. 

Pacheco came back last summer posting on social media about his summer youth football. A display in the hallways of Vineland High School went up Monday celebrating the Super Bowl appearance. His former coach is still debating a trip to Las Vegas.

"We are going to watch and celebrate that second Super Bowl Victory with Pacheco and the Chiefs," he said.