ARVADA — The state championship shine from the Fall high school sports season has been twice as bright for the Cillessen and Walker families this holiday season.

Junior Sara Walker and senior James Cillessen — first cousins — both brought home team titles during the Fall 2023 season for Arvada West and Columbine high schools.

“I never thought we would have the opportunity to both win,” Walker said.

Walker was a key cog on Arvada West’s girls flag football team that completed a perfect 25-0 season that won the state title back on Oct. 14 at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. The Wildcats dominated Cherry Creek 34-14 at the Denver Broncos’ indoor training facility.

About 90 days later, Cillessen helped Columbine capture the Class 5A state football championship. The Rebels dethroned Cherry Creek who were going for a fifth straight state title.

“She (Walker) beat Cherry Creek in the girls flag football state championship. I had to come out and do the same thing,” Cillessen said after the Rebels defeated the Bruins 28-14 on Dec. 2 at Canvas Stadium on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins.

Both were on hand to support each other in the championship victories.

“It was so great. I wanted him to win so bad,” Walker said. “We talked about before the game how we could show off our rings at the Broncos game. Now we are going to.”

All of the Colorado football state championship teams, along with A-West’s girls flag football squad, will be honored at the Denver Broncos’ final home game of the season Sunday, Dec. 31, at Empower Field at Mile High.

“It is great to see her success,” Cillessen said of Walker. “I’m sure she thinks it’s great that I succeed. I love her. It’s great all the way around.

Walker is already in the thick of the girls basketball season where she is averaging seven points and nearly eight rebounds per game for the Wildcats (6-2 record). Going after back-to-back girls flag football state titles her senior year is on the horizon in 2024.

Cillessen captured several postseason honors. The linebacker/running back was named the 5A Jeffco League Defensive MVP, along with receiving 1st team all-state honors and being named to the Denver Post All-Colorado Team.