Shelton All-State kicker Cristiano Rosa signs with CCSU

Cristiano Rosa was named to the 89th annual New Haven Register All-State football team.

Cristiano Rosa was named to the 89th annual New Haven Register All-State football team.

Central Connecticut Athletics / Contributed photo

SHELTON - Cristiano Rosa’s football career is built on preparation. He lets the groundwork put in toward the craft of placekicking take its natural course. Muscle memory allows the Shelton standout to diminish the pressure of any situation.

The exception to this rule occurred the first week of the month when Rosa took a seat opposite Central Connecticut State University head football coach Ryan McCarthy to discuss his possible role with the Blue Devils in the FCS aligned Northeast Conference.

“I met with Coach McCarthy in his office. He changed my offer from a preferred walk-on spot to a scholarship,” Rosa said. “It caught me off guard. When they offered me, I realized that Central is where I always wanted to be.”

A top-of-the-line placekicker for 9-3 Shelton, Rosa went on a game day visit when CCSU played Southeast Louisiana in September. Shortly after he was offered a preferred walk-on position. Marist College also offered him a spot. Rosa chose to wait.

“I feel I have a great relationship with the coaches at Central. I’m excited and believe I can play right away,” he said. “We will play in games all around the east coast.”

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Rosa was named to the 89th annual New Haven Register All-State football team as a punter. Eight of 10 on field goal attempts, 30 for 31 on conversion kicks, he placed 30 kickoffs into the end zone and seven punts inside the 20.

“Punting and golf are similar,” Rosa said. “You want to place the ball in a certain spot. I want to keep it away from a certain returner or in a specific place on the field. At end of the day, if I kick it 50 yards and it is returned 20 it doesn’t do much good. If I kick it 35-40 with no return that is better.”

Field goals bring points; punting and kickoffs deny scoring opportunities.

“Whatever I can do to help put my team in the best situation as possible,” Rosa said of his preference. “I do what I can to help my team come out on top Friday nights. I take it one rep at a time, think of that singular moment, the task at hand.”

Rosa will strictly do placekicking at CCSC.

“They have a punter (Aidan Clark out of Tolland High) who did great his first year,” he said. “With field goals, the biggest thing in my head is to hit it through. It isn’t about distance. I don’t swing too hard, just make the ball come out straight.”

McCarthy reported on Rosa’s signing on “We identified him very early in the process and he comes from a long line of Shelton specialists that have excelled here at Central Connecticut. Cristiano has the ability to change the game on special teams, and we are very fortunate that he decided to continue his career in-state.”

Rosa will replace former Shelton All-Stater Joe Zoppi, who finished his career at CCSU with 99 points on 13 field goals and 60 PATs.

“I’ve talked with Joe about football at Central,” Rosa said. “He’s enjoyed it and said great things about his teammates and coaches. I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone about the program.”

Rosa next in line at CCSU

Shelton’s Ed Groth punted and handled kickoff duties from 2014-17 at Central. Place kicker his last three, Groth was 26-for-38 on field goals, 62-for-67 on extra points. H averaged 36.6 yards per punt with 41 inside the 20. At Shelton, he earned All-State honors from Walter Camp, the New Haven Register and the Connecticut Post.

Zoppi, who led the state in kicking as a senior with 83 points, followed Groth to Central. He was named the Northeast Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after he kicked the game-winning field goal in CCSU's season-finale against Saint Francis according to

Zoppi booted the Blue Devils to the 24-21 win when he kicked the game-winning 31-yard field goal as time expired. The kick was his third field goal of the game. He added a PAT for a season-best 10-point game. He opened the game's scoring when he kicked a 21-yard field goal, along with a 39-yard kick to get CCSU within 14-13 late in the third quarter.

Zoppi finished the season making six straight field goals. He had a season-long kick of 42 yards and was 10-of-16 on field goals. He was also 26-of-27 on PAT tries. Twitter: @blox354