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Jaden Rattay has been in right place at right time for 5-0 Lincoln

Lincoln receiver Jaden Rattay has scored eight touchdowns in the last two games.
(Chris Rattay)

It’s a rite of passage involving fathers and sons who play games against each other, an understanding one day that Dad will no longer get to spike the football after victory.

Chris Rattay, the father of Los Angeles Lincoln receiver Jaden Rattay, admits, “There’s nothing I can beat him in anymore.”

There was chess. Dad won. There was Hearts. Dad won. There was H-O-R-S-E. Dad won. There was running. Dad won.

“The only thing I can still get him at is golf,” Chris said. “He went out for the first time last summer. He took three lessons and he starts driving the ball the same distance as me. Football saved me.”

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Jaden, 5 feet 11 and 150 pounds, has scored eight touchdowns in the last two games for 5-0 Lincoln. He’s a 15-year-old junior who has never received a grade other than A on his report card since the sixth grade.

“He’s got a heck of a brain,” said Chris, who was Lincoln’s football coach in 2017 and 2018 before stepping down because of a health issue. “Every time he takes a standardized math test, he saves it.”

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Lincoln coach Gabriel Cotero said Jaden has the characteristics of a future coach, tutoring players in math, showing leadership during games and providing an example of how to act on and off the field.

“It definitely helped being around a coach,” Jaden said. “It definitely rubbed off. I pick up little things that makes it easier to see on the field.”

Chris grew up in Arizona, ran a 4.5-second 40-yard dash and 49.0 for 400 meters in high school. His brother, Tim, is an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and former NFL quarterback.

Jaden is just beginning to take advantage of his intellect and family genes.

“He’s taller than me, has longer legs and has been lifting,” Chris said. “He’s much faster than last year. This is his first full season at receiver. Every week, he’s getting better and better.”

Last week against Mendez, Jaden scored touchdowns three different ways — he caught two passes, returned a punt and returned an interception.

“It was really fun,” he said. “I didn’t expect it. I was in the right place at the right time.”

Chris was Jaden’s coach through youth football, but he had to step away because of his health. He’s doing much better and serves as Lincoln’s booster president.

“He didn’t stop being my dad even when he was sick,” Jaden said. “There was a couple months he was in and out of the hospital. It was scary.”

Football is a sport that has taught Jaden many lessons.

“One of the biggest lessons is don’t give up,” he said. “I’ve been a skinny kid since I was little. I might get beat up because I’m skinny, but I learned to never be scared and every time I got pushed down, get back up for next play.”

Jaden attends Lincoln’s math, science and technology magnet. He’s getting A’s in five AP classes — calculus, English, Spanish, chemistry and U.S. history. He said that the environment at Lincoln “is cool” and that the success of the football team this season has excited the student body. Lincoln is surrounded by the communities of El Sereno, Chinatown, Boyle Heights and Cypress Park.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when sports competition stopped, Chris invited Jaden to try golf. He was making plenty of progress until football resumed.

“He has me on the short game, short chips, putting,” Jaden said.

Dad knows his days as best golfer in the family won’t last long.

“The things I love about him, he’s so competitive and strategic but has great character,” Chris said. “He never talks trash. He’s got that fire him.”


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