Starkville quarterback Gabe Myles drops back to pass during a game this season. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
The Starkville Yellowjackets have gotten used to quarterback Gabe Myles giving every ounce of effort to the offense the last two seasons.
There was no better example of that than when he scored the game-winning two-point conversion last Friday night to help Starkville defeat the West Point Green Wave 29-28 in overtime to claim the Class 5A North State championship.
When West Point had both receivers covered on the play, Myles decided to tuck the football, ran to the end zone and scored for the Jackets.
"I was just thinking about getting the win," Myles said. "Looking ahead (to a possible State championship game) will get you in trouble, so I was just focused on the game. I didn't see anybody open, so I didn't want to force anything at the same time. When I saw the end zone, I just wanted to go for it."
That was fine with SHS head coach Jamie Mitchell.
"I wouldn't have wanted the ball in anyone else's hands," Mitchell said. "West Point did a good job of covering the route we called. The end play was Gabe Myles making a play and that's what he's done for us a lot of times."
For the second-straight season, Myles has shown the ability to produce on the ground and through the air for the Jackets. He has completed 81-of-171 pass attempts for 1,146 yards and 13 touchdowns, while getting 554 yards rushing on 127 carries and nine more scores.
Myles got off to a slow start after spraining his ankle early in the season, but his production increased as he became more healthy.
"That took away from what he does best and that's make people miss," SHS offensive coordinator Preston Leathers said of Myles' ankle injury. "He didn't use that as an excuse, was constantly working on it and trying to get back. I'm just glad it happened early so we could get him back to where he is now."
Myles doesn't worry about personal gain, but looks to help the Jackets win games.
"I think I'm getting back to Gabe Myles finally, but it's more about the team, how we've gotten better as the year has gone along and come closer at the same time," Myles said. "It was always a goal to get back to Jackson. That was our main focus. We had to fix some stuff. You can't be a good team if you are not a team so we became closer. When you get closer as a football team, you become brothers and you have someone you are going to fight for."
Myles realized the goal of playing for a State title for the second-consecutive season. After Starkville lost to Picayune last season, it meets Pascagoula Saturday at 7 p.m.
"With the defeat last year, it feels good to be able to come back, have the chance to redeem ourselves and win a state championship," Myles said. "Anytime you have a chance to play for a state championship, it's a good feeling."
Mitchell said Myles has been very instrumental in the Jackets' return trip to Jackson.
"We wouldn't be here without him and is really what makes us go," Mitchell said. "The things we do go directly through him. He's a special player no doubt and a better person. His leadership characteristics are awesome and what he does on the field."
It didn't take the SHS coaching staff long to figure out who would be the best fit at signal caller after the departure of Jaquez Johnson.
"We put him at receiver as a sophomore and he was on the scout team against our No. 1 defense," Leathers said. "He was getting yards as a sophomore and we knew he was going to be something special. He has not disappointed."
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