Debut of ‘Boys in Blue’ will be first viewing for Mpls. North players

Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS

Showtime's four-part documentary series "Boys in Blue'' on the 2021 Minneapolis North football team debuts Friday night. The players and coaches involved have not seen the roughly three hours of filming in advance.

"We get texts in a group chat every day and some of us are trying to find a place to watch the first one together,'' Rio Sanders said. "The film crew was there for so many days, but you have no idea what they decided to use.''

Sanders was a star receiver and occasional quarterback as a senior with the 2021 Polars. He's 5-10, 185 pounds, tops, but extremely explosive.

He redshirted this fall at Iowa Central Community College, a power program in junior college football that was loaded with receivers. He has been home in Minneapolis during a school break.

"The only thing we were told when filming started was to 'be ourselves,' and that wasn't a problem,'' Sanders said. "I never wanted to be a person to change the way I act because there was a camera around.''

Tae Gilchrist, a senior lineman on that team and now playing at St. Scholastica in Duluth, said: "We would see the film crew every day, or at least every other day, and it actually started to feel like family.

"Peter Berg, the director, and his crew … they cared for us. You could tell that.''

The event that ultimately devastated these coaches and athletes — the murder of Deshaun Hill, their 15-year-old starting sophomore quarterback — will not be covered until the final episode late in January.

Hill was shot walking to a bus stop not far from North High on Feb. 9, 2022. Cody Fohrenkam goes on trial for second-degree murder this month.

The filming was wrapped up and Berg's crew was gone when the shocking killing of Hill took place. Hill is among the main characters in the film in its original form.

"I still can't believe that happened,'' Sanders said. "The majority of our football team is on that group chat, and there's not a day when someone fails to get us talking about D-Hill."