By DANNY P. SMITH
There's quite a bit on the plate of Starkville High School athlete Gabe Myles this spring.
Myles is not only preparing to help the 4x200 meter relay team win a state championship on Saturday, but he's also trying to earn the starting quarterback position on the football team for the Yellowjackets.
So far, SHS football coach Jamie Mitchell says Myles is doing a good job of balancing both endeavors.
Even though Princeton Jones and Michael Newman figure into the plans for the Jackets and are getting some good reps, the junior Myles may have the upper hand on replacing the departed Jaquez Johnson.
Mitchell sees Myles separating himself with his performance on the field.
"He's trying to run track and play spring ball too so we're just trying to split time there," Mitchell said. "In the last three or four days, Gabe has really taken some steps forward to solidify (the quarterback position) and hopefully he will continue to do that."
"We thought Gabe would be the guy, but just wanted to see him come out and prove it in the spring."
Even though he's involved with two sports, Myles understands he must set an example.
"It's just go with the flow and do what I've got to do," Myles said. "I know I have to step up, be a leader and show them what I've got."
Senior offensive lineman Eric Rogers believes Myles is getting better and has faith in his abilities.
As a senior, Rogers is going to make sure Myles doesn't go backward.
"I know he's not here sometimes because of track, but I tell him to get better when he's here," Rogers said. "I've got to come set an example for the younger guys and got to get better."
Starkville has one more day of practice before traveling to Columbus Thursday for a spring game against the Falcons.
After the Jackets graduated 25 seniors from last season's squad that finished 5-6 and missed the playoffs by one game, Mitchell and his coaching staff have been trying to make the most out of the situation.
"I feel like I'm going to daycare just about every day just because we're so young," Mitchell said. "I looked (Monday) and I think we have one starter back on offense and one senior actually listed on our two-deep on offense. We've got six starters back on defense so that side is a little bit better.
"We're going to be a team that plays a bunch of young players with very few seniors. Our hope as we go is they will certainly grow up."
Along with Myles, Rogers and junior defensive lineman David Fair have caught the eye of Mitchell this spring.
"Those are a couple of guys who have stood out," Mitchell said. "Both of those guys have been lights out. They are certainly going to be good players for us. We just need more of those kind to step up and get some things done. (Fair) is one of the better players we have and has a high-ceiling of room to get better."
Mitchell said playing Columbus will be a good measuring stick for his squad.
"Tony (Stanford) has a good bunch coming back and they didn't hardly lose anybody," Mitchell said. "We will definitely have our hands full, no question about that. On the front end of our schedule, we need to play somebody good in the spring too. A lot of these young guys will be wide-eyed and hopefully we can deal with that during spring and it won't be such an issue in the fall when we get ready to play."
The schedule for Thursday will consist of one junior varsity quarter, starting at 5 p.m., then a first half with the varsity, another junior varsity quarter at the halfway mark of the varsity, and then the second half of the varsity game.
Myles' action in practice may have been cut back because of his track responsibilities, but he's looking forward to getting after it against the Falcons.
"I haven't seen a lot of the contact they've been talking about, but I'm anxious to see what we can do," Myles said.