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By DANNY P. SMITH
Gabe Myles sees each day as an opportunity to improve as a quarterback.
The Starkville High School junior lives for the moment and wants to be the best player he can be today.
Even though Myles has another year as the signal caller of the Yellowjackets, he's not thinking that far ahead.
"I'm wanting to see how far we can go this year," Myles said. "If we can do well this year, it's just going to be a template. Whatever we do, it's going to be time to step it up to a new game. I'm taking this as my last season and do the best I can do this season. When next season comes, you want to do better then."
It's an approach that seems to be working for Myles.
After taking over for the graduated Jaquez Johnson, Myles has performed well on the field in leading Starkville to records of 6-2 overall and 4-0 in Class 5A, Region 2, District 6.
Myles went over the 1,000-yard passing mark with his outing in the Jackets' 45-8 win against Canton last Friday. He has completed 64-of-136 pass attempts this season for 1,033 yards and nine touchdowns.
Starkville football coach Jamie Mitchell said Myles' passing numbers could be even better if all of the catches had been made, but likes the progress his young quarterback has made.
"His completion percentage is not as good as it should be," Mitchell said. "We've dropped a few balls and that's something that's not his fault. He's still got a lot of things to work on and continue to get better. He's well ahead of where we'd thought he would be."
Myles also leads the Jackets in rushing with 368 yards on 107 carries and four touchdowns. He uses his mobility to help in the passing game.
"I'm more comfortable when I'm on the move," Myles said. "I'm feeling a little more comfortable in the pocket and my pocket presence is getting better, but when I'm moving, it's easier to go ahead, take off and I'm not worried about what's going on around me. When I have an open field, I can either throw the ball or run with it."
With a running quarterback does comes the possibility of mistakes and Myles has made his share with 12 fumbles and five interceptions.
Myles knows there's much room for improvement in his game.
"I'm not satisfied where I'm at and want to get better," Myles said. "I'm not as far along as I want to be because of the amount of interceptions I've thrown and bad reads. I need to get better in reading coverages and making decisions. I've got to keep getting better every day."
Despite the bad plays, Mitchell said Myles is "doing a great job," and continues to improve each week.
"For the most part, he's making good decisions with the football," Mitchell said. "I really challenged him last week to not throw it to the other team. If we make sure we take care of the ball, I think we'll be hard to beat."
Mitchell looks forward to seeing where the experience leads Myles the next two years.
"It's going to be amazing to see where he is a year from now," Mitchell said. "It's unbelievable the difference that one year makes and he'll be a polished product by this time next year no doubt."