Interlake High School 2017 graduate will be in the starting lineup as defensive back for the Montana Tech Orediggers this fall on the gridiron. Shaun Scott/staff photo

Interlake High School 2017 graduate will be in the starting lineup as defensive back for the Montana Tech Orediggers this fall on the gridiron. Shaun Scott/staff photo

Interlake star is making his mark at Montana Tech

Naoki Harmer is looking forward to his third football season in Butte, Montana.

Interlake High School 2017 graduate Naoki Harmer was known for delivering bone-rattling hits in the secondary during his high school days on the gridiron.

Nothing has changed at the collegiate level.

Harmer, who will be a redshirt sophomore this fall with the Montana Tech Orediggers football team in Butte, Montana, played nearly every defensive snap in the Orediggers secondary during his redshirt freshman season in 2018. Harmer said he can play either the safety or cornerback spot depending on what defensive assignment is called by the Montana Tech coaching staff.

“Whatever the coaches want, I can do. Our school likes to run a lot of man-to-man coverage. I wasn’t used to that (coming out of high school) but I feel I have gotten a lot better in man coverage. I take pride in that. If the opportunity comes, I still try to make those big hits,” Harmer said.

Harmer said the Orediggers possess aspirations of dominance during the 2019 season. The Orediggers compete in formidable in the NAIA’s Frontier Conference.

“We want to win the (Frontier) conference championship. As an individual goals, I just want to be the best person I can be on and off the field. I had plenty of pass breakups last year but I didn’t get enough picks (interceptions). My goal this year is to get more picks, force fumbles and create some havoc,” Harmer explained.

Harmer is spending the summer of 2019 at his parents’ house in Bellevue. His days consist of working in the mornings to make extra money as well as partaking in intense workouts in the evenings to sharpen his skill-set as a defensive back. He knows a conditioning test on the first day of practice in Montana in late July isn’t far away. The Montana Tech University campus, which sits at close to 6,000 feet in altitude, is a hard task for newcomers to the football program to get accustomed to.

“It is pretty intense just because of the altitude change. We have to run 15 110-yard sprints. I think for defensive backs and receivers, we have to finish in under 13 seconds every single time. Every day I have been doing footwork and drills. I work on a lot of backpedaling. There are things that I have to do every day,” Harmer said of his workout regimen. “I want to see what I can do these next three years and know that I left everything out there. I just want to take advantage of it.”

Harmer said one of the challenges he faces is his weight. Harmer always has been on the small side and tries everything he can do in his power to put on the pounds.

I’m actually 175 right now but the coaches want me coming in at around 180,” Harmer said during an interview on June 26. “They want me to gain these five pounds. I will figure it out. I try to eat 4,300 calories per day. I have been pounding (protein) shakes like crazy.”

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