By Matt Noonan
CAMBRIDGE, MA – On Wednesday afternoon, WPI’s Mitch McClune was awarded this week’s Golden Helmet Award at the weekly New England Football Writers’ Gridiron Club of Greater Boston luncheon.
McClune, who had never won this prestigious award, was speechless when introduced to coaches and media members at Harvard University.
However, once the weekly gathering adjourned, the graduate student had no problem piecing together sentences about the award, as well as the season, too.
“This is all new to me,” admitted the Pembroke native.
Against St. Lawrence University last Saturday, McClune tallied four interceptions (a school record) against the Saints in his team’s first Liberty League victory.
“Things kind of worked out,” McClune stated. “They kept throwing the ball my way.
“It was pretty much the first time all year I’ve been challenged at corner and had the ball actually thrown at me, so that was kind of good to see it, but bad for them because the [opposing quarterback] kept throwing it at me.”
McClune recorded his first interception late in the second quarter, which resulted in touchdown three plays later.
Once the second half commenced, McClune became Saints quarterback Danny Metzgar’s favorite target, as the Natick native sailed three of his passes in the graduate student’s direction.
“We were pretty much sitting in Cover 2 [defense] a lot,” McClune said of his team’s defensive formation.
“The last play of the game was kind of just a fluke thing. [Metzger] just threw it up, I got lucky, but I’ll take it either way.”
Prior to his career day, McClune admitted the last time he came close to four picks was during a youth football game where he accumulated two interceptions. At Boston College High School, he admitted it was roughly one pick per game.
“It didn’t really set in until after the game that I had four,” explained McClune.
“[My teammates] were talking to me and I said if he throws it again, I’m going to pick it off, and I really wasn’t thinking about how many I had, but he threw it up on the last play and I figured I’d come down with it.”
Excluding the four interceptions and junior John Antonopoulos’s four touchdowns (three through the air, one on the ground) the victory provided an end to the Engineers’ six-game losing streak, as well as marked their first win in the conference, too.
WPI has two games remaining, and while they won’t be making the trek to a conference championship or tournament, McClune hopes their second win of the season will translate into successful outcomes against Rochester and Springfield College.
“We’ve been in a lot of tough close games this year where one or two plays go a different way we’d come out on top,” said McClune.
“[Being] able to get that win and put a great game together all around on offense and defense feels good, so hopefully we can carry that over to the last two weeks and get on kind of a roll to finish it out. It would be great.”
McClune is the second player this season from the Liberty League to earn this honor. Earlier this year, Springfield College’s Jonathan Marrero was named the Div. II/III recipient after registering seven touchdowns in two quarters.