St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version


Meet Brandon's 'Death Row'

Matt Juncal, Rashard Goff and Keith Simmons work to put the finishing moves on another state title for the Eagles.

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 9, 2003

BRANDON -- Baseball has a closer to finish out a win and soccer has a stopper to keep opponents from scoring. Brandon wrestling has "Death Row" to finish its matches.

This season, the Eagles have a starting lineup loaded from top to bottom. However, many opposing coaches have assumed Brandon is weak in the upperweights.

What they encounter instead are three wrestlers determined to make contributions to the Eagles' success.

Death Row starts at 189 pounds with two-time state champion Matt Juncal, followed by Rashard Goff at 215 and Keith Simmons at 275.

Each is a state contender with the power to hammer home Brandon's 14th state title in Lakeland Feb.27-March 1.

In a recent match against Countryside, the Cougars were challenging Brandon's national record streak for consecutive dual match wins, trailing 15-12 with six bouts remaining. Death Row recorded three straight pins to provide Brandon with 18 points and put Countryside away.

"Any time we are in a match, our goal is 6-6-6, (the points earned for) three pins, and we knew three pins would save the streak that night," Juncal said. "Brandon's tradition is important to us and we work hard to do our part on a totally great team."

Now the big guys are working hard to help the Eagles prepare for the state run, starting with the Class 2A, District 7 tournament Feb.15 at King.

"The term Death Row was started by Brian Howsare, our 189-pounder last year," Goff said. "Keith and I were sophomores and Brian a senior and none of us were all that good. But when Matt moved up to 189 this year with two state championships, he challenged us to be our best."

This season, Goff is undefeated at 24-0, Juncal is 28-0 and Simmons is 24-4.

"Everybody knows about our small wrestlers, but they think the Brandon big guys are weak," Goff said. "Juncal has two state championships, but Keith and I have never had any personal recognition. We basically want to show people Brandon's upperweights are no pushovers. We want to dominate opponents. We are Death Row."

Goff and Simmons started wrestling as freshmen after football season. After working out with the team for a while, wrestling became a major part of their lives.

Juncal started working with the Brandon Wrestling Club in elementary school.

"We aren't interested in being something outside the team when people call us Death Row," Simmons said. "Our objective was and is to help the whole team. We are not a separate part of the team, we are just three big guys and friends determined to do our part for the whole team."

As a two-time state champion, Juncal didn't need any additional personal recognition, but he welcomed the opportunity to be a part of Death Row.

"When I first heard the term Death Row, I thought it was cool," Juncal said. "We really work to the limit every day in practice, pushing each other hard. Keith and Rashard take it serious and believe in themselves. They have no fear of losing, so they attack. They can both be state champs this year."

Brandon coach Russ Cozart normally doesn't allow groups on his teams to take on nicknames, stressing a team concept throughout every season. But this group might deserve the title.

"All three of our big guys are good, hard-working kids and a pleasure to coach," Cozart said. "They follow instructions, and when they make mistakes, they correct them. They labeled themselves and they are living up to the label. Good upperweights for Brandon usually spells state championship.

"They are a good group of kids."

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk

  • No restricting Junior
  • Dixon wins consecutive NHRA Shootouts
  • Keep an eye on DEI teammates

  • College basketball
  • Gators hammer Tide for one last hurrah at No. 1

  • NFL
  • Plummer has offer to stay a Cardinal
  • Hubert Mizell: Chief of the Chiefs gets well-deserved spot in Hall

  • Baseball
  • Marlins win their case over P Nunez

  • NHL
  • Slapshots
  • Av rally keeps it hot, Wings cold

  • Parimutuels
  • Ben Awhile gets break in Classic

  • College basketball
  • Kentucky's 12th straight another blowout
  • Taurasi leads UConn past pesky Eagles
  • Salukis watch
  • Michigan returns to top conference
  • Tar Heels steal one from FSU
  • USF dodges trouble

  • Arena football
  • Cohen, Dell get to see other side

  • In brief
  • James scores a career-high 52

  • Sailing
  • Student and master face off for the Cup

  • Running
  • Wins prove to be workouts

  • NBA
  • Richardson puts on quite a show
  • Game a changing of guard (and center)

  • Tennis
  • Croatian rally stuns U.S. team

  • Golf
  • Love won't need a record round

  • Preps
  • Meet Brandon's 'Death Row'
  • Tornadoes collect title, milestones
  • Spongers' road leads to 20 wins

  • Bowling
  • Slow start can't stop the Xmen

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report

  • Staff opinion
  • Rant & Rave

  • Reader opinion
  • Your turn

  • Rays
  • Victories answer every Rays question
  • Rays will be getting back to basics
  • Devil Ray not at fault in crash, police say
  • Gary Shelton: I want my ... I want my Buc news ... right now!

  • Lightning
  • Charity goes on in draw
  • Buy or sell? GM will wait

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts