Myles chosen SDN Player of Year
Starkville High School junior quarterback Gabe Myles led his team to the Class 5A title game this past season. (Photo by Lee Adams, For Starkville Daily News)
Sometimes it was with his feet. Other times it was with his arm. On occasion, it was with both.
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No matter what method Starkville High quarterback Gabe Myles used as his skill of choice this season, the junior always seemed to find a way to get the best of the opposition.
Racking up 1,916 yards with 19 touchdowns in the passing game while running for 1,018 yards and 13 more scores, Myles, the Starkville Daily News All-Area Player of the Year, served as the centerpiece for the Yellowjackets' run to their first state championship game in a decade.
With a couple of weeks having now passed since SHS fell to Picayune in this year's Class 5A title contest, Myles has now had time to reflect on all the accomplishments he achieved both personally and with his team.
"It was all expected, but at the same time, unexpected," said Myles. "I knew if I did what I was capable of doing, we'd be able to get to where we were.
"I just thank God and my coaches for pushing me and giving me the drive to keep working and bettering myself so the team would be in better situations to win ballgames."
Behind the electric play of Myles, Starkville in fact won plenty in 2011.
The Jackets put together a 12-3 overall record, using their dual-threat signal-caller as the powerful engine of their offensive attack.
Myles' efforts didn't at all go unnoticed.
The Mississippi Association of Coaches recently honored Myles with Class 5A's Most Valuable Offensive Player award.
"To earn that, an award given by the coaches, it's a great honor for him," said Starkville head coach Jamie Mitchell of Myles. "So I don't think it is just all of us around here that thinks he's pretty good. I think there is a lot of folks across the state that realize what a talent he is."
Mitchell and the Jackets staff have long known the many skills that Myles possesses.
In 2010, when the SHS offense revolved around then-quarterback Jaquez Johnson, Myles' athleticism led to him being utilized as a wide receiver before he suffered a season-ending injury.
Mitchell said Myles' ability was evident as a wideout, but it would have still been hard to predict the success that Myles ended up having under center in the recently-ended campaign.
"I did think he'd be a good player," said Mitchell. "Before he got hurt last year, he was really, really impressive in practice at receiver and we were all impressed with him, but I don't think any of us would have ever dreamed that he'd be able to pull off what he did this year at quarterback.
"He certainly shocked us as a coaching staff. We knew he'd be a good player, but just never dreamed he could do what he did."
Myles, however, wasn't as surprised he could pull off the receiver-to-quarterback transformation so flawlessly.
After all, Myles said he's practically grown up with the football always in his hands.
"The transition for me was really (in 2010) going from playing quarterback to receiver," said Myles. "I'd been playing quarterback from 4th grade up to 9th grade and then in 10th grade moved to receiver. So coming back to quarterback was actually pretty easy."
Myles certainly made playing quarterback look simple at times throughout the season.
Myles adapted so easily that SHS offensive coordinator Preston Leathers said the Jackets coaching staff had to alter their plans just a bit.
"Early in the year, we tried to protect him a little bit and ease him in at quarterback slowly," said Leathers. "But he's too good of an athlete and we took the wheels off of him pretty quick. He made plays with his arms and with his legs."
On the rare occasions when Myles wasn't at his best, Leathers said Myles was his own biggest critic.
"I have to pick him up sometimes because he gets on himself so much," said Leathers. "He's just a great player though and he's an even better person."
Therein lies one of the major reasons Mitchell believes Myles has become the player that he is.
Not only does Mitchell recognize the amazing athletic abilities of his quarterback, but Starkville's leader sees Myles' upbringing â€“ a factor that Mitchell believes is aiding Myles' ongoing quest for greatness.
"All this didn't just happen for him," said Mitchell of Myles. "It started at home. He's got a great mama and a great daddy that keep him extremely well-grounded and generally those kinds of kids are easy to coach and he certainly is.
"He's got a lot of good things headed his way."