Ike’s Pacheco is The Big Nine Rushing King
Yakima (Wash.) Eisenhower RB Damien Pacheco is one of the most intriguing stories in the Big Nine this season.
Right now he’s leading the conference in rushing with 1,381 yards. This Friday he has a favorable matchup against cross-town rival Davis (1-8).
If the stars align, he could actually finish the season with an astonishing 300 carries and 1600 yards. It’s practically unheard of.
“I was not expecting to get this workload at all,” Pacheco said. “ In our first game our starting running back went down, so I knew I was next man up.”
Week one starter Jaiden Corbray would go down with a long term hand injury, and it’s been the Pacheco show ever since.
30 carries a game for nine straight weeks can take a toll on any ball carrier. What makes it even more impressive for Pacheco is he checks in at only 5 foot 7 150 pounds.
His durability isn’t something that’s happened by accident. It’s something that Pacheco consciously works on throughout the week.
Making sure he gets enough food is imperative so he doesn’t fall below 150 (something very easy to do when you’re burning calories everyday).
Ice baths have become a ritual every Thursday, to reduce inflammation for the next day’s contest.
Perhaps most importantly above all, getting enough sleep has been key to recovering after grueling workouts and games.
Pacheco admits he still gets a little nervous on game day.
“I know I have to step up everytime,” Pacheco said. “I have to punch it in every single time to make something happen.”
A lot of credit for his success has to fall on his offensive line. It features at least two, potentially even three, first team all league candidates.
The guard combo of Chance Ward and Javier Castro have been the model of consistency.
Both have been three year starters, and they’ve been workhorses keeping this running game on track. Senior Christian Soberanes also has been a quality right tackle .
Going into the season, the O-line unit knew that a lot of responsibility would fall on them to keep the offense productive. They’ve absolutely delivered.
“They’re some big guys,” Pacheco said. “It’s an all senior group, and I couldn’t do it without them.”
What stands out the most about Pacheco’s game is his vision. You would think a 150 pound back would be all about bouncing it outside, but he actually rarely does this."
He’s all about accelerating north-south, and hitting the hole where the play was designed to. A majority of his long runs have com right up the A gap.
At this point in the season, Ike is all but eliminated from playoff contention. But it hasn’t phased this group at all.
It’s hard to take the last two games of the season lightly, when they’re rivalry matchups against West Valley and Davis.
In his final game of his high school career, Pacheco has loft goals for himself. He’s hoping to break the 300 yard barrier; in the process, also touching 300 carries.
“We’ve got some surprises for this one,” Pacheco said with a grin. “Last game of senior year, we’re going to have fun with it.
As far as what’s next, Pacheco hopes to continue his football career at the next level.
In order to accomplish this, he plans on putting on weight this off-season in anticipation of walking on somewhere.
Regardless of what school he ends up at, his plan is to study exercise science for a career in physical therapy.
Eisenhower takes on Davis this Friday night at 7pm from Zaepfel Stadium. You can listen to that game live on 1460 ESPN Yakima.