High school football is huge in the south, especially in North Carolina. In 1964 in the small town of Hickory, history was made when the all-Black Ridgeview Panthers went undefeated, winning all twelve games in that season. What makes the Panthers’ run even more astounding is that their opponents never once scored on them.
Ridgeview High School was one of several all-Black schools in the state during a time where schools nationwide were transitioning out of segregation but discriminatory Jim Crow laws still held fast. The team was coached by Sam Davis Sr., who led the victorious squad through the Northwestern Conference, the Western District Class AA, and the North Carolina Negro Class AA Championship games.
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the historic run, with several members of the team in attendance at a celebration commemorating their achievement. The ’64 season has become a significant part of local lore and in recent times has taken on even more historical significance.
The now defunct Bedford County Training School, an all-Black high school in Tennessee, had an impressive win record themselves. The team recorded 52 straight shutouts between 1943 and 1950. Like Ridgeview, Bedford played in an all-Black high school league.