ENGLEWOOD — Arvada West’s girls flag football was a picture of perfection this season.

In the second year of girls flag football as a pilot program with the hope to become a Colorado High School Activities Association sanctioned sport for the 2024-2025 school year, the Wildcats captured the state title Saturday at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse at the Denver Broncos’ Center Health Training Center.

A-West defeated Cherry Creek 34-14 in the final of the 16-team state championship tournament. The Wildcats finished the season with a perfect 25-0 record.

“I’m so happy we got here. Last year we let it slip in the championship,” A-West junior Sara Walker said referring to A-West losing to Chatfield in the title game a year ago. “This year we made it all the way through undefeated. We got our revenge.”

Photo by Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Public Schools

The Wildcats cruised to victories over Chatfield V2, Mountain Vista and Pomona before facing Cherry Creek in the championship game. The Bruins took a dramatic overtime win over Ralston Valley in the semifinals.

“It definitely helped,” A-West junior quarterback Saylor Swanson said of the Wildcats not having a tight game through the first three rounds. “We weren’t too exhausted and it helped having the experience of playing in the title game last year.”

A-West took an early 14-0 with touchdown passes from Swanson to Walker and junior Molly Schellpepper. The Wildcats pushed their lead to 21-0 at halftime.

“We were favorites this year, but we didn’t let that get to our heads. The girls came out to play today,” A-West coach Mario Lopez said. “They had ambition. They had drive. Everything was about discipline today. Mistake free flag football is what I kept preaching and that is what they did today.”

A year ago, A-West finished runner-up to Jeffco rival Chatfield at the state tournament. The defending state champions were knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals by another Jeffco team, Ralston Valley.

Three of the four semifinalists were Jeffco teams. A-West and Pomona were joined by Ralston Valley in the Final Four.

“We felt really confidence,” Walker said. “We knew we were going to win. I’m so happy we did.”

Walker, Schellpepper, along with sophomores Santana Pena and Aubri Cespedes gave Swanson plenty of offensive targets for the diverse offensive attack for the Wildcats.

“We have a very talented offense. I put a lot of skilled players on offense,” Lopez said. “Last year our quarterback (Swanson) didn’t really play defense. She is a game-changer and she proved it today.”

Swanson did it on both sides of the ball in the title game throwing four touchdown passes.

“She (Swanson) did great. She is always amazing,” Walker said. “She always finds the right person and makes the right read. She gets the ball to the receiver. She is the best QB in the state.”

The point guard for A-West’s girls basketball team handled the pressure of playing in the state championship game for the second straight year.

“Being the favorite is always the hard part to be in,” Swanson said. “We couldn’t get complacent. We stayed focused and got the job done.”

A-West should be right back in the mix next season. The majority of Lopez’s players will return. He also believes girls flag football has a “bright future” and will clear all the hurdles to become a CHSAA sanctioned sport next year.

Only time will tell if Jeffco will be able to claim a third straight girls flag football state title next Fall. For now, A-West is the home of the state champions.

“It was very important to stay in Jeffco, but it stays at Arvada West for this year,” Lopez said.