According to contemporary newspaper accounts, the first high school soccer match in North Carolina was played at 1:00 PM on Saturday, October 31, 1925 at Hanes Park in Winston-Salem, NC.

For three years, the city’s graded schools had offered soccer as an intramural (then called class) sport. As in other parts of the world, the “beautiful game” became wildly popular, with nearly 400 boys and girls participating at the brand new Richard J. Reynolds High School. By 1925 there was a movement to start a boy’s varsity team.  Principal John Watson Moore granted permission and Leroy W. Crowell, the head of the physical education department, agreed to coach the team.

The biggest problem was to find an opponent. It turned out that only one other school in the state had a varsity team. Arrangements were made to play them in a match before the RJR football team’s playoff game against Elkin High School.

So on Hallowe’en, the RJR Golden Tornado* eleven stepped onto the Hanes Park pitch to do battle with the lads from High Point High School. A large crowd waited in eager anticipation for the opening whistle.

They were soon delighted by the fast and furious action. Try as they might, the High Pointers could not penetrate the rugged Reynolds defense. But by game’s end, the Tornado had struck twice, for a 2-0 win. The goals were scored by junior John “Jack” Pepper, Jr. and sophomore Chester Keiger. Freshman goal keeper George Sprinkle recorded the shutout. The headline in the Winston-Salem Journal said that the crowd “liked it.”

The rematch was played the next Saturday on a muddy High Point field. This time Sprinkle stepped out to play center half, leaving the goal keeping to  freshman Paul Allred. But the result was the same, 2-0 Winston-Salem. Pepper got his second goal of the season and freshman Tom Cook nailed the other.

So the Golden Tornado’s first season ended undefeated, untied and unscored upon. And Jack Pepper became the all-time leading scorer in NC high school soccer history.


1925 R. J. Reynolds High School soccer team

George Sprinkle, goalkeeper, front row left & Coach Crowell, front row right

Image scanned from Black & Gold, 1926


Jack Pepper scored the first goal.

He was also a member of the National Honor Society

Image scanned from Black & Gold, 1927

* The later, and much cooler, Black Demons nickname did not arrive until sometime later. “Them Demons, them Demons, them Black Demons, now hear the word of the coach!”

As far as can be determined, there is only one other sports team in the world at the high school or above level that uses that nickname. They are the Black Demons American Football Club, a Madrid team that is in the LNFA (Liga Nacional de Fútbol Americano) and associated with Saint Louis University, the American Jesuit University in Spain.