At 25 years old, Fred Statz already had proved himself as an assistant coach for the Waseca High School football team.

But on Tuesday, the players he coached mourned his loss. Statz was killed about 8 p.m. Monday when his car collided with a semi-trailer truck at the intersection of Waseca County Roads 27 and 14.

"He was a natural," said Waseca head coach Brad Wendland. "And that's what make it so devastating. ... As a young coach he was on his way to positively affect hundreds of kids, thousands of kids, in a life-changing way.

"All that's been taken away. It's heartbreaking."

Wendland was immediately sold on bringing Statz onto the coaching staff after meeting him two years ago following a recommendation from friends at Minnesota State University in Mankato. Statz was a recent graduate who played defensive lineman. He was young but he was intense, Wendland said.

"He was passionate, vibrant," Wendland said. "He just had an aura that caught on to everybody. He could take a kid who liked football and make them love it. He made all of us better coaches. His love of football was contagious."

According to the State Patrol, Statz was traveling south on County Road 27. The semi, driven by Anthony Simon, 46, of Braman, Okla., was traveling west on County Road 14. The State Patrol is investigating the accident. Simon was not injured.

Wendland said the football players were devastated when they learned about the accident on Tuesday. "He was one of a kind," Wendland said.

Some guys can play the game but can't teach. Statz, who lived and sold insurance in Mankato when he wasn't coaching, was a natural at teaching, Wendland said.

"He could communicate with kids."

Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788