El Dorado’s defense stood tall Friday in a 60-27 semifinal win over Marion. Senior Mario Ganter stood tall, too, although one might not know it just by looking at his statistics.
Ganter had three tackles.
No interceptions. No pass breakups.
The cornerback’s stat line was filled with empty columns. Just as it should be.
“I want to brag on Mario. He may not be having the stats that he had last year as far as interceptions but that goes back to what we talked about earlier this year. Teams tend to throw away from him,” said El Dorado defensive coordinator Trey Outlaw. “That was a big example of that this week. We put him on (Marion’s Donnie Cheers), who is their most explosive receiver. You go back and you watch Marion play Benton, (Cheers) had two or three 50-yard touchdown receptions. Turn around and come and play us and Mario shut him down so much on the outside, they had to move him to the slot, which he hadn’t played very much this year.
He essentially took away their main offense and made them go to a new offense with that.”
That’s been Ganter’s role all season. He’s ready for the action if it comes to his side. Through 12 games, he’s recorded 43 tackles with one fumble recovery.
No interceptions but then again, he can’t catch what they don’t throw his way.
“Going into the year, statistically, that’s kind of what we expected,” said El Dorado head coach Steven Jones. “The last two seasons, he’s made a lot of plays. So we expected they wouldn’t really go after him. That’s what we’ve seen all year. He’s a really good player. If you’re a corner and you don’t have a ton of stats, that’s out of respect. They must think you’re a pretty good player.
Mario has shown he can make plays.”
The Wildcats will play one of the most potent offenses in the state in Greenwood on Saturday in the 6A State Championship game. The Bulldogs haven’t shied away from anyone this season. Ganter hasn’t either.
“(His role) is going to be the same. We’re going to put him out there and tell him to cover the best guy and shut him down,” Outlaw said.
“The great thing about our guys, Bryson Boulden has come a long ways. They’re basically 1A and 1B as far as corners so pick your poison. You want to go after the senior or you want to go after the junior who is just as good and talented.”