October 11, 2013 at 4:06 am

Tom Markowski

Prep picks: Jeff Burnside's return to Novi coincides with title bid

Novi — Jeff Burnside spent 10 seasons at Novi as an assistant before leaving to take over the top spot at Berkley.

But after two seasons, he got the chance to return to Novi and take over the program.

He jumped at the chance, and at 7 tonight faces his most challenging test when his team hosts Northville.

A victory would give Novi a share of the Kensington Lakes Activities Association Central Division title. Northville would clinch the title outright with a victory.

“We’ve been pretty good defensively,” Burnside said. “We had a hiccup against South Lyon (36-13 loss). We just didn’t tackle well.”

His defense will have its hands full trying to contain Northville quarterback Joey Hewlett, one of the top players in the KLAA. Hewlett, a two-year starter, throws well and is more effective when he scrambles.

And the best defense could be Novi’s run-oriented offense. Burnside runs a pro style set that features a blocking back (fullback Marshall Sayles) and zone blocking schemes. Novi has attempted only 50 passes.

“We switch (to zone blocking) to suit our personnel,” Burnside said. “We’re totally different now than what you saw on film in games one and two.”

The pick: Northville by 7