For Forest Park sophomore Eric Kumah, Friday’s game at No. 7 Hylton marks something of an unplanned homecoming.

A year ago, Kumah was turning heads as a sure-handed receiver for a Bulldogs squad that made it all the way to the Virginia AAA Division 6 semifinals.

But a death in the family intervened, re-routing the standout pass catcher’s path about three miles down Spriggs Road. After transferring to Forest Park in mid-September, Kumah earned a transfer waiver from the Virginia High School League and strapped on Bruins blue for the first time Oct. 7.

“My first day of school [at Forest Park], I had players I didn’t even know coming up to me, welcoming me to the school, to the team, and telling me ‘you’re family now.’” Kumah said.

With last Friday’s 20-18 win over Woodbridge, Kumah ushered Forest Park’s passing attack to a previously-unseen level. His seven catches and 160 receiving yards were both season highs.

“Since Eric joined us, it’s given us a lot more options in the passing game,” said Bruins receiver Wesley Rush. “It’s not just me and Mustaqeem [Williams] anymore. It’s me, Mustaqeem, and Eric.”

By all accounts, Kumah’s transition into the lineup has gone without a hitch. During offensive drills at his first practice, Kumah lined up on the same side of the formation as Rush, a former youth league teammate.

“On that first day it just flowed right into everything,” Rush said. “It was like the past and we were just little kids out there again.”

The Spriggs Road brawl takes on added clout this season — because for the first time to date, both teams are relevant.

At 7-2, Forest Park has already secured the first postseason berth in school history. With a win, the Bruins clinch home field advantage for the first round of the 6A South region playoffs, while Hylton (8-1) is primed for another deep postseason run.

Homespun trash-talking t-shirts and Twitter wars are par for the course in this Montclair/Dale City rivalry.

“I cant stand forest park, really,” tweeted Matthew Burrell Jr., a standout offensive lineman for Hylton.

Rush admits it’s tempting to join the conversation; he’s done so before games in the past.

“This year, we’re kinda laying back, and not doing any trash talking,” Rush said.

“So on Friday, we can just give all the [trash] back to them.”

Kumah expects to see a few familiar faces in the crowd on Friday. And he’s got no negativity for anyone across the field on Hylton’s side.

“I’m still good friends with a lot of them,” Kumah said. “But at the end of the day, when we’re out they’re playing, I’m not going to act like they’re my friends.”