Class of 2017
The Grizzlies had dipped a bit recruiting in the mid-west when Aldo Forte agreed to come to Missoula from Fenger High School in Chicago.
Jim Dorsey, the first African American football player to play at the University of Montana and an eventual attorney, earlier ventured west from Milwaukee and convinced future Hall of Famer Naseby Rhinehart also to come to Missoula from Wisconsin.
And with solid prospects a large part due to outstanding line play Forte joined future Hall of Famer Bill Lazetich on Head Coach Doug Fesseden’s team that also included Milt Popovich, Paul Szakash and Len Noyes.
Starting at guard in his sophomore season in 1936, he played an even more significant role in a near historic ’37 campaign which saw Montana’s defense allow but 19 points and receive national acclaim after winning six straight games.
The Los Angeles Times touted the Missoula group as a Rose Bowl possibility but the muck from a violent torrent in Moscow made playing conditions virtually impossible and the troublesome Vandals prevailed sending Montana to a Sun Bowl invitation vs. Texas Tech or a similar bowl against Hardin-Simmons but a lack of budget prevented their participation.
Without being besieged with injuries during his senior season, Forte probably would have received All-American recognition but he was still drafted by Chicago in the 21st round as the 191st pick.
Forte played on the Championship teams of ’40 and ’41, when he was named All-League in both seasons.
He served in World War II, returned to play for Detroit in 1946 and a year later inGreen Bay before moving to an assistant coaching position with Detroit for 15 years until 1965.
The Lions were the professional champions in 1952, ’53 and 1957.
Named as a second-year member of the UM Football Hall of Fame in 1982, Forte also was inducted into the first class of the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
Written by Mick Holien for the Montana Football Hall of Fame