Fourth in a series of stories profiling top high school football players by position. Today, Jaden Rattay, L.A. Lincoln receiver.
When the boom from the starter’s pistol sounded at the start of the City Section final for the 400-meter race, Jaden Rattay of Lincoln High began a race last spring no one gave him a chance to win against Granada Hills’ Dijon Stanley.
“I knew I was the underdog, so I knew I had to give it all my heart,” he said.
Running in Lane 5 next to Stanley, Rattay took the lead briefly on the final turn. It was a shocking moment. Rattay started the year running the 400 in 51 seconds in his first track experience. Now he was competing and leading one of the City Section’s fastest athletes.
“I got a little excited,” Rattay said. “I thought I kind of had a chance.”
Except Stanley turned on the afterburners and finished in 46.94, the second-fastest 400 by a City Section athlete this century. Rattay ran a career-best 48.15 to finish second.
“I was really elated,” he said.
It was an example of Rattay’s fearlessness and refusal to back down no matter the challenge and no matter what others might think.
“He did push me,” Stanley said of the race.
Rattay’s improving speed and strength mark him as an athlete to watch this football season. He’s a 16-year-old senior receiver and safety who figures to be one of the most versatile scoring threats in the City Section.
Last season in leading Lincoln to a 10-0 record in the regular season, he had 13 touchdowns receiving, two touchdowns rushing, two touchdowns on interception returns and one touchdown on a punt return.
He’s grown to nearly 6 feet and 165 pounds and is a candidate to be the school’s valedictorian, having never received a grade other than A on his report card since elementary school. His father, Chris, used to be Lincoln’s football coach. His uncle, Tim, was an NFL quarterback. And the fact he doesn’t turn 17 until October makes him one of the youngest seniors on the field and someone who figures to keep getting better with maturity.
“I’m definitely stronger than the last couple of years,” he said.
As a receiver in high school, teams would try to jam him at the line of scrimmage. It was an effective strategy against someone who needed more strength. It will be interesting to see how he might be able to burn cornerbacks this season as he frees himself and uses his speed to create opportunities for big plays.
Lincoln will be using him in a variety of ways — getting him the ball on screens, fly sweeps and deep posts. Once he gets the ball in open space, will anyone catch him?
“Hopefully not,” he said.
During the spring, his father gave him a goal in the 400 to break 50 seconds. When he ran 49.8 in his next race, the reaction was, “Oh shoot, let’s keep pushing.”
The improvement of some three seconds shows Rattay might be scratching the surface of what he’s capable of accomplishing as increased speed and strength combined with his work ethic and intelligence could lead to some exciting sports moments at Lincoln High this fall and spring.
Receivers to watch
Name, School, Ht., Wt., Yr., Comment
Tiger Bachmeier, Murrieta Valley, 6-1, 180, Sr. Stanford commit has good hands, athleticism, intelligence
Aaron Butler, Calabasas, 6-1, 170, Jr. USC commit can still get faster
Hector Ceballos, Franklin, 5-9, 175, Sr. Caught 27 passes in a game last season
Grant Gray, Norco, 6-3, 180, Sr. Two-sport athlete is UCLA commit
Carlos Hernandez, Monrovia, 6-0, 170, Sr. Washington State commit with great hands
Makai Lemon, Los Alamitos, 6-0, 180, Sr. USC commit with big-time skills
Mikey Matthews, Mission Viejo, 5-10, 185, Sr. Trusted to make any kind of catch
Jaden Rattay, Lincoln, 6-0, 165, Sr. City Section’s most versatile weapon
Jason Robinson, Long Beach Poly, 5-10, 170, Jr. USC commit makes big catches
Peyton Waters, Birmingham, 6-0, 160, Jr. The next Birmingham college recruit
Tomorrow: Nick Fernandez, San Pedro tight end.