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January 2013

Cornhole – The Ravens’ Game Away From the Game

By | ACO in the Media (coverage in news) | No Comments

button-blog-readOWINGS MILLS, Md. — Before the Baltimore Ravens left for New Orleans on Monday, they packed up all of their equipment and gear. With a long week ahead of them before the Super Bowl on Sunday, players and staff went to great lengths to include everything they considered most important, everything vital to their performance.

So it was a given that their four cornhole boards, which occupied a central piece of real estate in the locker room at their training facility this season, were coming with them.

“I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a secret to our success,” said Morgan Cox, the team’s long

Cornhole, a Midwestern pastime also known in some parts of the country as Bags, is a game of stupefying simplicity. Points are scored by tossing a small bag, typically filled with resin, into a round hole cut into a slanted board.

The Ravens take the game seriously. They played games before practice and after meetings, the soft thud of the cornhole sack providing a sense of stability — and community — in a roller-coaster season. It was a foregone conclusion that the boards would make the trip to Louisiana.

As Ray Rice watched, quarterback Joe Flacco tossed a bag in a recent cornhole game before practice.

In fact, quarterback Joe Flacco and punter Sam Koch are members of the American Cornhole Organization, the sport’s governing body. Frank Geers, the A.C.O.’s president and chief executive, said Koch called him late last week to stock up on additional supplies — and Koch even saved about $10 by using his membership discount.

The Ravens have bonded over cornhole, Koch said. An N.F.L. locker room can be an isolating place, with offensive and defensive players seldom interacting. Why would a starting defensive end strike up a conversation with the third-string quarterback? But inside the Ravens’ locker room, cornhole has been a unifying force — like a Monday night bowling league.

“When you pick up a bag and start playing, you have an instant reason to talk to guys and build relationships,” Koch said.

Based on the Ravens’ cornhole rankings (yes, there is such a thing), Koch is the team’s top player. The only person who consistently challenges Koch is Darren Sanders, the Ravens’ director of security. Offensive lineman Michael Oher used to give Koch problems, but teammates say Oher’s confidence and technique have waned in recent months. It has not gone unnoticed.

“Mike isn’t even in the top five anymore,” Cox said. “He’s really declined.”

The Ravens began to play cornhole in 2010, when defensive end Cory Redding introduced the team to the game’s finer points. (Redding, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, is also a member of the A.C.O.) It did not take long for cornhole to catch on. The players found that it was an easy way to unwind after practices and pass the time between meetings.

The Ravens usually organize several tournaments over the course of the season, with singles and doubles brackets. Flacco and Oher’s team is called the Untouchables.

The Ravens even set up a special Twitter account for cornhole-specific updates (@RavensCornhole), though posts this season have been few and far between. The team, by most accounts, has been more concerned with winning games than tabulating rankings.

Justin Tucker, the team’s rookie kicker, said he benefited from some informal cornhole training before he entered the N.F.L. Once he joined the Ravens, he worked hard to refine his self-described “herky-jerky” throwing motion.

Like Oher, Tucker has seen his cornhole aptitude deteriorate during the playoffs. Nailing a winning a 47-yard field goal against the Denver Broncos in the divisional round earlier this month provided some solace, if only temporarily.

“I used to be top five around here,” Tucker said. “But I’ve fallen off. It’s a shame.”

Koch, who grew up in Nebraska and has been with the Ravens since 2006, said he never played cornhole until it made its locker-room debut three years ago. He realizes this might come as a surprise. “Coming from Nebraska, and it being the Cornhusker State, you automatically think cornhole,” he said.

Regardless, Koch said it took him only about four or five weeks to develop a technique that suited him. He now feels most comfortable tossing the bag like a Frisbee, with a slight clockwise rotation. Consistency is what sets him apart. He is the Stan Musial of the cornhole toss, at least in N.F.L. circles.

“Sam took it to another level,” Cox said. “He raised the bar for everybody else.”

Koch would have a tougher time on the professional cornhole circuit, at least according to Geers, who created the A.C.O. with the goal of spreading the game. The country’s best players are capable of earning up to $10,000 a year. The world champion is recognized as the King of Cornhole.

“After the Super Bowl, I’d love to have some of these guys on the front line against our top players in the country,” Geers said. “I bet they’d be floored.”

Isidro Herrera crowned ACO King of Cornhole

By | ACO News (from the ACO) | No Comments

Newly crowned ACO world champion King of Cornhole Isidro Herrera thanks the crowd for their support.

Isidro Herrera wasn’t going to play in the King of Cornhole VII.

Excuse me. Say that again.

The Chicago native who lost to Eric Zocklein at King of Cornhole VI wasn’t planning on returning to Tunica, Mississippi for another shot at the ACO world championship title. That all changed three weeks before the event.

The reigning ACO world champion Queen of Cornhole Crystal Mann sent Herrera a text. She needed a partner for the World Doubles Championship.

“So I said, ‘Well, I’m in,’” Herrera said. Besides, who can say no to an invitation from the Queen?

Herrera and Mann lost to Derrick King and Jimmy McGuffin in round one in the final 32-team bracket, which eliminated their chances at the World Doubles Championship titles. They won their next two matches in the losers bracket before getting knocked out by the husband and wife duo Bruce and Teresa Foresee.

But it’s the King of Cornhole where Herrera wanted to be. He and Eric Zocklein put on a performance last year that went down as one for the record books.

“We were tied 20-20 in the second game, and he gave me two chances to score 1 point. I didn’t take advantage of it,” Herrera recalls, thinking back to last year’s title bout. “Then, just one bad throw that I had, he scored his points on me, and that was the game.”

Zocklein entered the King of Cornhole VII seeded 4th, having earned a free entry into the tournament due to getting into the CornyForty (top 40 in the world rankings). Herrera had a much bigger hill to climb.

Herrera had to battle through almost 100 players to win one of eight Open spots in the King of Cornhole VII. His quarterfinals lost to Matt Guy at the ACO Hamilton Cornhole Cup in June earned him 16 points in the World Rankings. He was nowhere near getting into the CornyForty. Even a great SCR wouldn’t put him anywhere close to qualifying for the Ranked Players Invitational, an exclusive tournament for top points earners vying for 16 spots in the King of Cornhole.

Not only did Herrera return to the main event, it would be against his friend and reigning world champion King of Cornhole Eric Zocklein. Herrera won game one 21-16, lost game two 21-14 and found himself down 20-12 in the third and final game of the match.“Honestly, I thought I was done,” Herrera said.Herrera was far from done. He inched his way back into match, eventually tying the final game 20-20. Zocklein had a bad frame. Herrera capitalized on it and edged Zocklein 21-20 to earn the crown and rightfully be known as the King of Cornhole.

“You play around here and go to little tournaments and you think everyone’s good. There’s a lot of good cornholers around here,” Herrera said. “But you get to the big tournaments, and they’re just incredible. Every little chance they get, they want to score on you every time. They’re aggressive.”


Shane Andrews and Danny Blanks are ACO World Doubles Champions

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Shane Andrews and Danny Blanks shortly after their win at the ACO World Championships of Cornhole VII (photo courtesy from Sara Davis

Danny Blanks teamed with Shane Andrews in 2011 and finished the year runners up for the ACO World Doubles Championship title losing to Eric Zocklein and Chase Lackey.

Flash forward one year later. Blanks and Andrews are world champions.

Blanks and Andrews returned to American Cornhole Organization World Championships VII in Tunica, Mississippi. Only this time they won the world titles over ACO Team of the Year Jay Dotson and Brandon Hill and staked their claim as the best team in the sport.

“Feels great knowing we brought the title back to the Carolinas,” said Blanks, a Fort Mill resident whose partner is Andrews, a Bessemer City, N.C., resident.

Blanks had different expectations entering this year’s premiere event due to taking off almost six months of personal time away from the game to spend more time with his family after the birth of his son.

“To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to throw as well as I did,” he said.

One could see tiny bits of rust in his game in singles competition. He finished top ten in two ACO Majors in 2012. He finished 17th in the King of Cornhole VII.

“Just wish I could have took the singles also but had a great time,” Blanks said. “I believe the four months I took off hurt me, but I practiced the week before, so no excuses. I will try to bring it home to Fort Mill next year and win some majors for us this year.”

New World Champions of Cornhole

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There are tournaments and there are events.

The ACO World Championships of Cornhole isn’t only an event. It is THE event. It is the one event of the year where cornholers from around the country go to compete against the best players, have fun, meet new people, see incredible competition and be part of the experience. Everyone has their Worlds moment. Maybe it’s advancing into the Open Bracket, beating someone you lost to in a Regional or Major, winning a t-shirt in a buy-in micro tournament, watching an awesome match, making it to the 64-player King of Cornhole or winning a world title.

“If you’re not having fun playing this game, don’t be here, ” said reigning King of Cornhole Eric Zocklein. “We’re here to have a good time.”

There is no doubt the ACO World Championships of Cornhole are about fun and competition. But when someone achieves something special, emotions are displayed which transcend trophies, prestige, money or a ring. You could feel that moment when Jay Dotson and Brandon Hill forced a third game against Shane Andrews and Danny Blanks. You could see that moment after Jen Allen’s emotional Queen of Cornhole III victory over two-time champion Crystal Mann.

2012 ACO World Doubles Champions Danny Blanks and Shane Andrews

The Worlds is a place where one can earn special recognition amongst their peers; a place where a player’s season long journey culminates into achieving personal goals. It is the place a cornhole player can be crowned the Best in the World.

Teams had to win five matches to earn the ACO World Doubles championship title. There’s no better way to start your journey to the world titles than by facing the reigning champions. ACO Team of the Year Jay Dotson and Brandon Hill made a statement defeating the defending ACO World Doubles champions Eric Zocklein and Chase Lackey in round one. Three victories later, they were in the championship finals against Shane Andrews and Danny Blanks, runner-ups at Worlds VI. Andrews and Blanks took game one. Jay Dotson and Brandon Hill fought back and took game two. But the ACO Team of the Year fell to Andrews and Blanks who won their first ACO World Doubles Championship title.

“Feels great knowing we brought the title back to the Carolinas,” said Blanks.

The excitement didn’t stop there. Next up was the Queen of Cornhole between two-time reigning world champion Crystal Mann and Jennifer Allen. Allen challenged Mann. She took risks. If this was a Rocky movie, this was Rocky III. Two fighters going three rounds for the world title. Allen came out fighting like Rocky Balboa attacking Clubber Lang and took game one 21-0. Mann regained control of the match winning game two 21-12. They went back and forth in game three.

Crystal Mann (left) and Jennifer Allen battle for the Queen’s crown.

“I couldn’t really get anything going,” said Mann. “Bags weren’t going where I wanted them.”

Allen took the lead and never let it go, sealing the Queen of Cornhole title with a 21-14 win. The post match interview tells the story why Allen’s victory will go down as one of the most emotional victories ever at the ACO World Championships of Cornhole.

“That was hard. I took a lot of effort into this,” said Allen. “Six months of busting my ass. But I did it. She’s a beast. She’a a beast.”

The question many had was if Eric Zocklein (KY) and Isidro Herrera (IL) could match the epic performance of King of Cornhole VI? Their KOC VI match goes down as a top five KOC match. It would be hard to top. Some argue Zocklein and Herrera did.

Zocklein got out to an 8-0 lead in game one. Herrera not only fought back, but he built a 20-12 lead. Zocklein climbed back to 20-16 until Herrera took game one 21-16. Zocklein would start game two with a nine point lead, up 11-2 over Herrera. And again Herrera would climb back, closing the gap to 13-10. Zocklein secured game two 21-10.

Herrera took an early 5-0 lead in game three and built a nice 9-4 lead. Zocklein would battle back to 9-8 and then take the lead 10-9. With a 12-10 lead, Zocklein hit a five spot to go up 17-10. It was very similar to his performance against Matt Guy in the semifinals. Zocklein was up 6-4 when Matt Guy put up a five spot to take the lead 9-6. Three frames and five points per frame later and Zocklein won 21-9 and returned to the world title match.

ACO King of Cornhole® VII Isidro Herrera with ACO Chairman Doug Hopkins

What happened next was amazing to see. Herrera was down 20-12 to Zocklein in game three. His third bag sat on the edge of the hole. Zocklein’s bag was up against the front of the hole. The only option for Herrera was an airmail. Not only did Herrera hit the airmail, he took the other two bags with it for a wash. It energized the crowd and gave Herrera life. It gave him momentum.

“He had me down pretty good. I thought I was done,” said Herrera. “But I had to keep my head up. Keep working, working, working.”

Herrera’s perseverance paid off. He scored two more points to cut the lead 20-14. Then he cut it to 20-18. Then 20-20. Eight bags later and Isidro Herrera was crowned the new ACO World Champion King of Cornhole.

“I want to thank everybody that came out and supported me from the Illinois area. And definitely I’ll come back next year to defend the title.”

Three world championships matches were only part of the experience at the ACO World Championships of Cornhole VII. Crews also participated for the Farfsing Cup. Crew members earned points based on their performance in the Singles an Doubles. The Crew with the least amount of points walked away winners of the Farfsing Cup. The winning Crew consisted of former King of Cornhole Eric Zocklein, Chase Lackey and ACO Team of the Year Jay Dotson and Brandon Hill.

Other tournaments at the ACO World Championships of Cornhole VII were the Ranked Players Invitational (Singles and Doubles), an exclusive tournament for players/teams in the ACO World Rankings, Open Singles and Open Doubles (open tournaments with the best players/teams advancing to the King of Cornhole and the World Doubles Championship), World Games Championship and two social tournaments, King of Sling (singles) and Social Doubles Championship.

Congratulations to all the winners at the ACO World Championship of Cornhole VII:

King of Cornhole VII: Isidro Herrera
Queen of Cornhole III: Jennifer Allen
World Doubles Championship: Shane Andrews and Danny Blanks
Farfsing Cup: Jay Dotson, Brandon Hill, Chase Lackey and Eric Zocklein
World Games Championship: Dale Smith
RPI Singles: Dale Smith
RPI Doubles: Adam Hissner and Jeremiah Wilson
Open Singles: Crystal Mann
Open Doubles: Randy Atha and Dale Smith
King of Sling: Mike Lucas, Jr.
World Social Doubles Championship: Steve Ard and Austin Robillard

ACO World Championships of Cornhole VII Results

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The ACO World Championships of Cornhole VII is the biggest cornhole event of the season. Here are the updated results from this year’s season ending event.

Ranked Players Invitational (RPI): Singles | Doubles

Open: Singles | Doubles

World Social Doubles Championship

King of Sling

World Doubles Championship

Queen of Cornhole

King of Cornhole

CaliforniaReal Cornholers of OCOrangeCharlie
California San Diego ACOHemetWilliam
CaliforniaWest Coast CornholeWalnut CreekRon Stokes / Ken
CaliforniaBay Area CornStarsPortola CalleyShane
CaliforniaSoCal CornholeGlendoraBrian
FloridaGulf Breeze CornholeGulf BreezeBrett Parker / Bill
FloridaTallahassee CornholeTallahasseeJake
FloridaGulf Coast ACOFort MyersMatt Hight / Chris
FloridaSouth Florida CornholePalm Beach GardensDavis Streker / Rosie
GeorgiaShowtime CornholeGrovetownDustin Parker / Randy
GeorgiaDirty South CornholeDallasShanon Lacy / Chris
GeorgiaHeart of Georgia CornholeByronSheila Melvin / Eddie
GeorgiaLake Country CornholeMilledgevilleChris Burrell / Tye
GeorgiaNortheast Georgia Cornhole AssociationSuwaneeAlan Polson / Korey
IllinoisACO St. LouisBrightonBrian Jones / Kevin
Illinois Chi-Town BaggersChicagoDavid Morse / Matt Garrett / Adam
IllinoisCapital City CornholeSpringfieldJeremy Wheeler / Matt
IndianaIndy Custom CornholeIndianapolisScott
IndianaCornhole Players of Southern IndianaChandlerMike
KentuckyACO LouisvilleLouisvilleKeith
KentuckyBluegrass BaggersMt VernonDave Woodall / Jake
KentuckyLicking Valley CornholeWest LibertyPhil Harmon
KentuckyWest Kentucky CornholeKirkseyRussell
KentuckyCornhole KingzOwensboroTony Ostria / Brian
MassachusettsBoston CornholeBrightonMike
MichiganMichigan CornholeRoyal OakJoe
MichiganKalamazoo CornholeKalamazooBill
MichiganMitten Mafia CornholeDavisonChris
MichiganMutha Suckers CornholeBrownstownJosh
MississippiSouth Mississippi CornholeBay St. LouisShawn
MissouriLebanon ACOLebanonDeryl Wilson / Bobby Kimrey / Kevin
NevadaLas Vegas CornholeLas VegasDamon Cochran / Erick
North CarolinaACO RaleighCreedmoorMichael
North CarolinaBurke CornholeValdeseTap
North CarolinaChair City CornholeThomasvilleBranden Davis/Robbie
North CarolinaPerson County CornholeRoxboroJason Wilborn / Jimmy Ray Long / Chris
North CarolinaRoanoke Valley CornholeRoanoke RapidsRicky Dorer / Steve
North CarolinaCarolina Surf and Turf Cornhole LeagueLelandMark Connette / CS
OhioCorporate ACOCincinnatiFrank Geers / Eric
OhioACO ColumbusColumbusRuss Funk/Chad
Ohio740 CornholeNewarkTed
OhioCleveland CornholeClevelandKen Allen / Dave
PennsylvaniaYork Adams CornholeNew OxfordMichael Rabine / Doug
PennsylvaniaClutch CornholePerkiomenvilleChipper Polkowski / Julie
South CarolinaLabelle CornholeInmanRyan
South CarolinaCharleston ACOCharlestonJoshua Coleman / Christy
TennesseeBlackJack CornholeBlountvilleTroy Houser / Alesha
TennesseeMid-South CornholeArlingtonMichael
TennesseeMid West BaggersSavannahChad
TennesseeShelby County CornholeArlingtonKristy
VirginiaBlack Diamond CornholePounding MillGreg
VirginiaLakeside BaggersRoanokePaula Stevens/Jack
VirginiaShenandoah Valley CornholeStanleyJunior Williams / Tammy
VirginiaCrooked CornholeVirginia BeachRandy Crook / Kelly
VirginiaCentral VA CornholeRichmondKatherine Kennedy/Kamryn
West VirginiaOutlaw CornholePrincetonKevin Thomason/Caleb
West VirginiaCult of CornholeLeonDale
West VirginiaMorgantown CornholeMorgantownRob
West VirginiaOhio Valley CornholeMoundsvilleRyne Foster / Barry