We may have to wait an extra week for the Super Bowl, but there will be plenty to keep area sports fans occupied this week -- especially in Hall County.
There is the usual full slate of basketball games lined up -- including a mouth-watering encounter between the Buford and Johnson boys on Monday -- but beyond that wrestling and swimming will also feature intriguing tournaments this weekend.
The Hall County swim championships will take place on Friday at France Meadows Aquatic Center in Gainesville.
As the area's best showed last year, swimming in northeast Georgia now features some of the best in the state, including one who is among the best in the world, as North Hall's Paul Powers claimed two individual state championships and helped a relay team to a gold medal.
Yet Powers is far from the only standout in the area, as last year's Hall County championships proved, with 11 different records broken on the night. Chestatee's boys and Flowery Branch's girls won the 2012 titles, as the sport continued to grow around the area.
Wrestling is also continuing its growth, and, as the state duals showed just two weeks ago, northeast Georgia's teams are amongst the best in the state, as Buford, Commerce and Jefferson each won team titles. Banks County also finished second, while North Forsyth and Lumpkin County finished fourth. Chestatee and Flowery Branch also competed in the tournament, with the War Eagles making a deep run in the bracket, and both will be in action again this weekend, competing for a big bucket of pride in the Hall County duals.
The tournament will take place at Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville. The War Eagles won their first ever Hall County title last season and will be amongst the favorited again this time around.
Meanwhile, the area's hoops programs continue to battle for postseason position, though one game on Monday has no playoff bearing whatsoever -- and it might be the most exciting of the bunch.
Lanierland champs Johnson will take on sixth-ranked Buford at 1 p.m. Monday in the MLK Classic at Berkmar High in Gwinnett County. The non-region showdown features two teams that have dominated their region schedules so far and played a tough slate of non-region foes, with plenty of success to show for it. Both teams feature plenty of athleticism, and while the Wolves have the edge on size with UConn commit Rakim Lubin, the Knights have plenty of ability inside and out, with James Hodges leading the charge in the post.
Just a day later Johnson will take on one of the top programs in the state and Class in Athens Christian at home.
Meanwhile, the races for 8-A, 8-AA, 7-AAA and 8-AAAAA will continue unabated. And, in Region 6-AAAAAA, the North Forsyth girls will look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season to tighten their grip on a No. 1 seed for the region tournament.
It's most definitely a week worth watching.
AREA SPORTS SCHEDULE, JAN. 20-25
Monday, Jan. 20