Sept. 13, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Flashback is a series that takes a look back at past Notre Dame greats. This week Flashback looks back at Emil “Red” Sitko a member of the 1942 and the 1946-`49 squads. He hailed originally from just down the road in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The local boy never played in a losing game for the Irish.
Sitko enrolled at Notre Dame in 1942 when he played for the freshman squad. He came off a successful senior year of high school where he was a member of the All-State Football squad. He also captained his squad in his senior year.
At the completion of his freshman season, Sitko walked away from Notre Dame football to enter the service. Sitko joined the Navy and found himself assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Norman, Oklahoma.
While serving his country, Sitko became a member of the Great Lakes football team. Little did he know that this Great Lakes team would go down in infamy with the Irish. Great Lakes and Notre Dame faced each other in the final game of Notre Dame’s 1973 season.
With 33 seconds remaining in the contest, Great Lakes quarterback Steve Lach completed a 46-yard bomb to Paul Anderson to give his team the win. Sitko’s Great Lakes team registered as the only team that year to defeat Frank Leahy’s championship team.
Three years later, Sitko would rejoin the likes of Frank Leahy and the Irish. Sitko earned consensus All-America selections at his fullback position in the 1948 and 1949 season.
The fullback carried the ball 60 times and amassed 426 yards and five touchdowns for the National Championship team.
In his junior year, he led the team with 742 yards on 129 carries. He scored nine rushing touchdowns that season. Also he caught seven passes for 70 yards and returned one kickoff for 76 yards.
In the 1949 race for the Heisman, he finished in eighth place. His teammate Leon Hart won the trophy that season. However, Sitko did win the 1949 Walter Camp Trophy for the outstanding college player.
He finished his career at Notre Dame, never having lost a single game. To this day, he is still currently ranked seventh on the Notre Dame career-rushing chart with 2,226 career yards.