Successful kickers over past decade have given Shelton a leg up

Cristiano Rosa is fifth in a line of placekicker-punters at Shelton that have helped the Gaels post an 81-23 record the past nine seasons.

Cristiano Rosa is fifth in a line of placekicker-punters at Shelton that have helped the Gaels post an 81-23 record the past nine seasons.

Bill Bloxsom / Hearst Connecticut Media

With a succession of talented kickers, Shelton has had a leg up on the opposition the past nine seasons.

“Jeff Groth (2011) was first and then Eddie Groth (2012),” recently retired football coach Jeff Roy said. “Joe Zoppi (2013-16) was next and then Nick Andrade (2017-18). Cristiano Rosa kicked for me as a sophomore. Now he’s with Mike (DeFelice). Cristiano is another big-time weapon. All those years they made a huge difference.”

Rosa was 36 for 38 on conversion kicks in 2019. He made 2 of 5 field goal attempts.

“Cristiano has the right mental approach to kicking,” DeFelice said of his 6-foot, 165-pound senior. “He goes about his business and keeps a cool head. Cristiano can put people in poor field position with his punting and kickoffs. He is smart in the way he goes about his business.”

Roy’s teams posted an 81-23 record the past nine seasons. It made the playoffs six times. Kicking field goals were attention getters. Field position gained was most advantageous.

“It was punts inside the 20, kickoffs into the end zone that were the key,” Roy said. “Add that to being able to kick a field goal in a crucial situation and that was an edge for us.”

Roy said that it was just the luck of the draw that skilled players also could be difference makers on special teams. Jeff Groth, Zoppi and Andrade doubled as wide outs and defensive backs. Ed Groth was a quarterback.

“Some of the boys played soccer, but we didn’t go down and recruit them,” he said. “They came up one after another.”

Kicking camps played a part.

“To be honest with you, we didn’t do much in terms of their development,” Roy said. “It’s a specific skill that has got to be worked on in the offseason. We worked in practice on timing, snaps and holds.”

Jeff Groth was a kicker/punter at Southern Connecticut for three seasons. He finished at SUNY-Morrisville. In 2016 he made three field goals and was 30-of-34 PATs in 10 games. He punted for a 36.9 average.

Ed Groth punted and handled kickoff duties all four seasons and was the place kicker his last three at Central Connecticut. He was 26-for-38 on field goals, 62-for-67 on extra points. Groth 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, after he led the state in kicking as a senior with 83 points, followed Groth to Central where he is now a senior. In 2019, Zoppi made 3 of 7 field goal attempts. He was 28 for 30 on PATS.

Andrade is kicking at Hartwick College. He had 10 field goals with a long of 40 yards as Shelton went 19-3 and won SCC titles in 2017 and 2018. Andrade made 49-of-51 conversion kicks. He averaged 36.8 per punt and placed 31 of those inside opponent’s 20-yard line to earn All-State honors.


“At Shelton I was the holder for Walt Oko back in the 80s,” Roy said. “Walt got a square-toe (shoe) and started booming them through the uprights. The year after we graduated, Pat Kelly beat Derby 10-7 with a field goal.” Twitter: @blox354