03:22 AM CST on Tuesday, November 13, 2007

By DAMON L. SAYLES / The Dallas Morning News
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Jimmy "Jack" Schuler, one of Kimball's most respected teachers and coaches, died early Monday after collapsing during one of his lectures, school representatives said. He was 51.

Schuler was Kimball's defensive line coach. He also was the school's head golf coach. Schuler taught economics and had been with the Dallas ISD for 26 years.

"The doctors think he had a stroke or heart attack," Kimball head football coach Darrell Jordan said. "They haven't determined which one."

School officials said Schuler was teaching when he collapsed in front of his students. It is believed that Schuler died en route to the hospital after paramedics were called.

Schuler is the second Kimball coach that has died in the last three months. Head baseball coach Samuel West Jr. was murdered in an Oak Cliff church parking lot in August.

Grief counselors were at the school Monday and will be there today for members of the student body and faculty.

Kimball football players and coaches remembered Schuler as "a warrior." Schuler expected a lot out of a team that statistically ranks No. 1 among Class 4A area defenses.

"Coach Schuler was more of a laid-back coach, but he always looked for excellence. Every play, he wanted 100 percent from us," linebacker Chris Gipson said. "He was one of those coaches that made you work."

Kimball is scheduled to play a 4A Region II Division I bi-district playoff game against Samuell on Thursday night at Forester Stadium. Jordan said he spoke to the players and coaching staff, and all were in agreement to play the game as scheduled.

Schuler has coached several big-name defensive linemen. DeMarcus Granger, a standout lineman at Oklahoma, graduated from Kimball in 2005. Granger was SportsDay's Defensive Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004.

Kimball players and coaches used Monday's scheduled practice time as an opportunity to reflect on Schuler's life. The team sat together and told stories about Schuler. No drills were run.

"Coach Schuler was a great guy, a funny guy in his own way," Jordan said. "He came to work every day, and he loved to coach. He and his wife were the best of friends. She probably attended more ballgames than any parent I know."

Gipson added: "When something like this happens, you have to realize that things happen for a reason. It's hard, but you just have to use it to help turn around the season. He wanted the same thing we wanted a [state championship] ring in December."