Angelo Bertelli, 1943

Angelo Bertelli played in only six of Notre Dame’s 10 games during the 1943 season, yet he captured the Heisman Trophy as he completed 69 percent of his passes and threw for 10 touchdowns. He led an impressive Irish offense that averaged 43 points in its first six games.  Prior to game seven, Bertelli was called into service with the U.S. Marine Corp, serving as a captain in Iwo Jima and Guam and earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.  Notre Dame finished the 1943 season with a 9-1 record, and a national title in addition to Bertelli’s Heisman Trophy.

Bertelli began his distinguished career as a single-wing tailback in 1941, leading Notre Dame to a 9-0-1 record.  He amassed 1,027 yards passing and a .569 completion percentage, tops in the nation.  In 1942 coach Frank Leahy switched to the T-formation and Bertelli took over as quarterback, finishing his junior year with 1,039 yards passing and 10 touchdown tosses, which helped him to win the first of his two All-American awards.  Against Stanford, he completed 10 consecutive passes and threw for four touchdowns.  That summer, preparing for his new role, Bertelli said he took ”a thousand snaps, maybe a million.” Grantland Rice, the celebrated sportswriter who had named the 1924 Notre Dame backfield the Four Horsemen, called Bertelli ”the T-formation magician.”

Following military service, Bertelli played with the Los Angeles Dons and Chicago Rockets in the All-American Football Conference from 1946-1948. A knee injury ended his playing career. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1972.

Bertelli served as assistant coach with Herman Hickman at Yale in 1951-1952. He moved to Clifton, New Jersey, operated a successful beverage distributing chain, sponsored and coached junior football teams, and for 12 years (1956-1967), he served on the radio broadcast team for Princeton football. Bertelli was born June 18, 1921, in West Springfield, Massachusetts. At Cathedral High School in Springfield, he won all-state honors in football, baseball and hockey and was senior class president. He died June 26, 1999, in Clifton, NJ, from brain cancer.