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Signing Day, Super Bowl highlight this week in sports
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Wednesday National Signing Day is as big as it gets for the nation’s premier high school football players.

It’s the day that flimsy verbal commitments, that often change from one school to another, become set in stone. Once a player signs on National Signing Day, the decision is officially binding.

Many local players will be signing on to play football at Division I schools on signing day. Those players include: Gainesville’s Blake Sims (University of Alabama) and Tai-ler Jones (Notre Dame), North Hall’s Daniel Blitch (Wake Forest), Flowery Branch’s Connor Shaw (South Carolina) and Buford’s Kolton Houston (Georgia).

This year, the University of Georgia has 19 players currently listed in its signing class, with safety Jakar Hamilton (Georgia Military) and Houston both already enrolled in school. Georgia Tech has 16 players currently committed with three of those already enrolled and in school.

SUPER BOWL: Sunday’s Super Bowl matches two teams with widely different histories. The NFC Champion New Orleans Saints (15-3) are playing in their first Super Bowl in franchise history, while the Indianapolis Colts (16-2) are back in the Super Bowl after winning it all in 2007 (29-17 over Chicago Bears).

Last week, New Orleans qualified for the Sunday’s showdown with a 31-28 overtime win against the Minnesota Vikings, and Indianapolis defeated the New York Jets 30-17 in the AFC Championship game.

This season, New Orleans led the league in scoring with 510 points, ranking ninth in NFL history.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 377 last week in the AFC title game and is the first quarterback in NFL history to have seven 300-yard passing games in the postseason.

This season, the Colts ranked second in the league in passing and ninth overall on offense. New Orleans has the NFL’s top-ranked offense this season and is fourth in total passing.

ATLANTA HAWKS: The Hawks have a busy week. Following the completion of a four-game season sweep of the Boston Celtics last Friday and a loss to the Orlando Magic on Saturday, Atlanta (31-15) visits the Oklahama City Tuesday, then returns home to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday and Chicago Bulls on Friday before heading out to face the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

ATLANTA THRASHERS: This week will be a big one if Atlanta hopes to hold on to second place in the Southeast Division.

The Thrashers (24-21) face the division’s third place team in the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and fourth place Florida
Panthers on Saturday, both teams are currently within two games of Atlanta in the division standings. This week, Atlanta also visits the division leading Washington Capitals on Friday.

HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING: This weekend marks the Area traditional championships for local schools.

Area 7-AAA will grapple for the area title at Gilmer on Friday and Saturday. The Bobcats have already claimed the Area 7-AAA duals title this season.

Meanwhile, Area 8-AA will wrestle at Riverside Military Academy, and 6-AA will wrestle at Lovett.

In Class AA, Jefferson is looking to qualify for state in the traditionals after winning its ninth consecutive duals state title earlier this month.

Area 8-AAA’s championships are going to be held at Morgan County.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: After losses to Florida and South Carolina last week, the Georgia Bulldogs (9-10, 1-5) look to get back on track with games at Arkansas on Wednesday and at Vanderbilt on Saturday. Winners of four of their last five, Georgia
Tech (16-5) faces Duke and North Carolina State this week.

In women’s college action, the ninth-ranked Georgia Lady Bulldogs have to contend with two top-notch SEC opponents when
they play host to LSU at 7 p.m. Thursday and South Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Lady Yellow Jackets, ranked No. 25, play at Maryland at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
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