BY CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media
VINELAND — While South Jersey is solid Philadelphia Eagle country when it comes to fan base, a legion of fans will be proudly wearing Kansas City Chiefs red for the Super Bowl today because of native Isiah Pacheco.
Pacheco, a native of Vineland, who got his start on the grass of the youth Vineland Blitz Football, Vineland Midget Football, will be the starting running back for the Chiefs behind NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes when they take on the Eagles in Phoenix at 6:25 p.m.
The Rutgers native was a late-round draft pick of the Chiefs but beat all the odds to win a roster spot on the Chiefs and proved his determination to become Kansas City’s starting back later in the season, his first in the NFL.
Nickname “Pop,” he played quarterback and running back for the Vineland High School Fighting Clan before moving on to Rutgers, where he was an impact offensive player for four years.
“All year long, but especially the past two weeks, locals have been wishing Pacheco the best has he heads for the big game,” said Vineland’s Sheena Santiago Velez on Facebook. “Our one and only Isaih Pacheco!!!! I wish him all the best tonight at the Super Bowl. He is very important to The Kansas City Chiefs and Vineland loves him.”
Vineland Mayor Anthony Fanucci paid tribute to Pacheco with a post of his own.
“On behalf of the entire city staff, City Council, and myself, I want to wish our hometown hero and favorite son Isiah Pacheco the best of luck as he prepares himself for the biggest moment of his young career on one of the biggest stages in the world,” he wrote on Facebook.
“We have watched him grow and mature from youth league football, through high school, college, and now in the NFL. We know why he got there… hard work, determination, perseverance, and an unbreakable will to succeed.”
Fanucci then highlighted quotes from Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and Mahomes in praising Pacheco for his progress.
“We are so proud of what he has accomplished and thrilled that the rest of the country is learning his story,” Fanucci said. “Thank you for being an ambassador for Vineland, giving the community something to get behind. Your success demonstrates that hard work really does pay off.
“And nothing could be more important than that life message for the children and young adults who look up to you. Best of luck in the Super Bowl.”
There was plenty of Twitter love for Pacheco as well.
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