FOXBORO — Tom McLaughlin couldn’t hide his excitement. But honestly, the former Merrimack defenseman didn’t want to.
“I can’t wait to touch that trophy,” said McLaughlin, who made his way onto the field with a slew of other former Warriors, including most of last year’s senior class that fell short in the national championship game.
The Warriors were finally national champions after beating Saint Leo, 23-6, at Gillette Stadium. As soon as the clock hit 0:00, the Warriors rushed the field and the former Warriors weren’t far behind.
“These guys deserve this so much,” McLaughlin said. “I know how hard they’ve worked and I know how much they’ve put in to get here and now to see this team win it all, this is what everyone has been dreaming about for years. They’re champions, and no one can ever take that away from them.”
Hunter Schmell and James Bassett are seniors now. They clutched the trophy at the postgame press conference and were proud to finally win a title for Merrimack, but also for that senior class that came so close to reaching this goal last season.
The background on Schmell’s phone, since last May, has been a picture of Limestone raising the national championship trophy. If that wasn’t motivation enough, the group text that went around prior to the game definitely was.
“Those guys laid the foundation for us, and they took us all the way here last year,” Schmell said. “They drove the ship and handed it down to us.
“Their inspiration to us was just work hard and be relentless. Don’t let this slip away. Don’t regret when you leave the field that you didn’t work as hard as you possibly could. Not that we didn’t last year, but we just knew that this year’s work ethic had to take it to another level, through the roof.”