SOUTH JERSEY (KYW Newsradio) — New Jersey will be well-represented at this year’s Super Bowl with several players and coaches on both teams.
Camden native and Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick played at Haddon Heights High School, then was a walk-on at Temple. He’s been terrorizing quarterbacks ever since. Coach Chris Lina says the whole school is buzzing and pulling for Reddick and the Birds.
“It’s just been incredible around here. The kids are all excited, the team,” said Lina. “He came out and visited us in October. He came by again in January. It’s just great having him around and having him have the success that he deserves.”
Reddick will spend plenty of his energy chasing Chiefs rookie running back Isiah Pacheco, who was a star player and four year captain at Vineland High School. Coach Dan Russo says the Super Bowl is already a win-win for them.
“Even if the Eagles get beat by the Chiefs, Vineland’s Isiah Pacheco is going to get a ring, so it seems like everyone is saying either way they’re happy and they’re going to have a great Super Bowl,” Russo said.
According to Lina, Reddick tells the kids about the importance of hard work when he comes back to visit.
“He spoke to them directly and very candidly about what it takes to get where you are. Don’t be denied, go work, even when social media isn’t on, just go work,” he recalled.
Pacheco made a name for himself as a kid playing pee-wee football. Russo says they knew they were getting someone special.
“He was only a freshman playing varsity. We actually had him playing quarterback here and we ran him a lot, and he can throw as well. He actually played baseball and had a cannon of an arm. But you know he’s been running hard his whole life,” Russo said.
The coaches say while both players are physically gifted, their mentality and work ethic set them apart from other athletes, and both point to the star players as perfect examples of what’s possible when talented people work hard.
Both coaches say football in South Jersey doesn’t always get the respect it deserves, and they hope star players like Reddick and Pacheco open more doors for the next group of players.
Meanwhile on the sidelines, Eagles special teams coach Tyler Brown is a Marlton native and Rowan University grad, while the team’s passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo was born in North Jersey, in Hillsboro.
Chiefs quarterback coach Matt Nagy was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, played high school football in Lancaster, Pa. and college at University of Delaware. Their offensive assistant Dan Williams is a former star player from Sicklerville, and his father Ted was a longtime assistant coach for the Eagles.
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