Dennis Pleuss/Jeffco Sports Information
A-West (purple), Chatfield (black), Evergreen and Columbine (navy) head to state tournament next Saturday
LAKEWOOD — The momentum that girls flag football has gained within Jeffco Public Schools was on display Saturday at Trailblazer Stadium.
Twelve teams from eight different Jeffco League schools competed in the inaugural Jeffco Tournament. After 12 games over five hours, Arvada West (purple) claimed the first girls flag football Jeffco Tournament title with a 26-6 victory over Chatfield (black) in the championship game.
“I’m proud of my girls,” A-West coach Mario Lopez said. “They came a long way in four weeks to where they are today.”
It was announced in early August that the Denver Broncos Charities would be funding a girls flag football pilot program that involved Jeffco, Cherry Creek and Denver school districts. The Jeffco League fielded teams from Arvada, A-West, Chatfield, Columbine, Evergreen, Lakewood, Pomona and Littleton that played in weekend jamborees over the last month.
“I’m shocked actually,” Chatfield coach Alexis Rosholt said of the growth and success of the program this Fall. “We were hoping and praying for 20 girls to come out at Chatfield and we got 80. Moving forward I think Jeffco is the powerhouse heading into playoffs.”
Alexis — wife of Chatfield football coach Kris Rosholt — actually had so many girls wanted to play that the Chargers had three separate teams. A-West and Columbine also had multiple teams this season with two teams each.
The top four teams — A-West (purple), Chatfield (black), Evergreen and Columbine (navy) — from the Jeffco Tournament qualified for the state tournament that will be held Saturday, Oct. 15 at the UCHealth Training Center in Centennial. The top four teams from Denver and Cherry Creek will fill out the 12-team bracket next weekend.
“Jeffco has a really good group of schools. I’m very excited about next week,” Lopez said. “Evergreen is a great team. Chatfield plays hard and has some great talent.”
A-West (purple) is undefeated on the season, but it wasn’t a breeze to get to the Jeffco Tournament title game. The Wildcats needed a defensive stop on a 2-point conversion in the final minute against Columbine (navy) to take a 14-12 victory. Previously undefeated Evergreen suffered a 6-0 overtime loss against Chatfield (black) in a defensive struggle in the other semifinal.
Senior Sierra Gallup was the star in the title game against Chatfield (black). Gallup had a pair of touchdowns runs in the second half to give the Wildcats the 20-point victory.
“I’m pretty excited and we have homecoming (dance) after this so that is another thing happening tonight,” said Gallup, who added she is thrilled to see and play at the Broncos’ training facility. “I’m just excited for state now and to take it.”
A-West sophomore Sara Walker is one of many multi-sport athletes that have quickly gravitated to flag football. Walker plays basketball for A-West during the winter season.
“I love basketball. This is a good break from all the pressure and intensity,” Walker said. “I really love this sport and basketball too.”
Walker already has eyes on the Wildcats winning the state title this Saturday in the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse and then go after titles the next two years. With hopefully her senior year girls flag football being a CHSAA sanctioned sport for the Fall 2024 season.
The CHSAA board of directors approved girls flag football as a pilot program for the 2022 and 2023 seasons last week. If all goes as planned the girls flag football will be a CHSAA sanctioned sport in Colorado in two years.
“It took off very quick and it’s really exciting,” Lopez said. “The turnout by the parents and everyone supporting it has been great. The girls have homecoming tonight, but they stuck it out and turned it into a league championship. That just shows the dedication to flag football in the Denver-area and Colorado right now.”
Lopez had been heavily involved in flag football for a long time. He still plays competitively and runs a women’s pro team that competes at the national level. Having the opportunity to coach high school girls was something he jumped at the chance to do.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Lopez said. “I got myself into a (Jeffco) championship.”