SAN ANTONIO — More often than not, San Antonio drivers whiz past Memorial High School with a preconceived notion.

"I take it personal because I know and understand we're on the rough side of town and people look at us differently, but we do have really great kids here," Memorial head coach Kemmie Lewis said.

But what if we took a minute to know these men?

To know, at least, one man.

"Memorial has always been one of those schools that people look down on," Minutemen senior quarterback Joel Lozano said. "I'm very motivated and dedicated to many things."

Lozano doesn't just lead his teammates, nor his head coach, but family too.

"Whenever it comes to difficult situations he's willing to step up to the challenge," senior running back and best friend Tony Hernandez said.

Lewis said, "He's one of my role models."

Joel Lozano
Memorial High School quarterback Joel Lozano leading his team during practice.

He has known no other way.

"I didn't know my father until I was about 8 years old," Lozano said. "He was basically in prison, decided to walk out on my life. So, my mother raised me, my brother and my sister—both younger than me."

He is also the eldest of 11 cousins.

"A lot of my (aunts and uncles) are like, 'Oh, your cousin looks up to you,'" he said. 

The quarterback position is perfect for Joel. His cadence sets the tone.

"We're setting goals here," Lewis said. "We want our kids to set those goals high. Don't set them low."

Lozano takes that to heart, especially when it comes to his dream school.

"For now, I want to be committed to Stanford," he said. "Stanford is just a reach school for me. I have a lot of advisers telling me, 'Don't settle for anything less.'"

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Not bad for someone becoming a first-generational college student in his family.

"It's something my family can really look forward to," Lozano said. "This program—we're not going to let them settle for less. We're going to push them to reach their highest potential."

They're words Lozano has put into action, something only seen and followed by the ones within the high school walls.

"Joel is one of the bigger role models at Memorial High School," Hernandez said. "A lot of people see him and see what he's trying to do and what he's capable of."  

"If I can set the example for many students," Lozano said, "that's what I'm going to do."