"The very first scrimmage of his sophomore year, the starting senior quarterback had a hamstring problem and he couldn't go," said McNulty, Charlotte (N.C.) Latin's head football coach. "So half an hour before the scrimmage we said to Braden ‘You're on.'
"The first time on varsity he threw for 250 yards that night. We're like ‘Woah, this kid is going to be good.'"
That season, Hanson saw mop-up duty, while Latin went 11-2 and rode a seven-game winning streak to a NCSIAA Title.
Following the season, Kyle Derham, the starting quarterback, graduated -- opening the door for Hanson.
"He had done a really good job as a backup when he got in as a sophomore and we knew that he had talent," said McNulty. "And, quite honestly, there wasn't a lot of competition for his spot."
Despite the lack of competition at the position, Hanson, a 6-foot-6 190-pound southpaw, possessed more than the required tools to fill the job.
"He's a competitor. He's a classic drop back passing kind of guy," said McNulty. "He throws a great fade, he throws a great skinny post – he can make just about any throw that you want.
"He is not a cannon arm quarterback at this point in his career. He's more of a touch guy, more of a put-it-where-he-wants-it kind of guy. He can throw the ball pretty far down the field. But as far as throwing outs and hitches that look like frozen ropes, he's not there right now. But, you know, two years from now, he may be. But the accuracy should still be there."
Hanson headed into his junior season as a talented – yet inexperienced – quarterback, who was expected to defended Latin's NCSIAA Title.
"Like any first-year starter, it took him four or five games to really conceptualize what we were trying to teach," said McNulty. "He had a great year. He could have had an even better year if he would have been able to do what he did towards the end of the season right from the beginning. But obviously there's a learning curve there for a young quarterback.
"Once he got comfortable with what we were trying to do with him and teach him with his reads and progressions, everything just took off."
During the third game of the season while facing reigning NCHSAA 3A state champion Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic, who were riding a 34-game winning streak, Hanson had his statement game.
"We beat them 35-7 and I threw three touchdowns," said Hanson. "It was a really good game and there was an article on the front page of the newspaper about me. So that was a big deal for me. That gave me a little confidence."
Hanson went on to lead Latin to a 12-1 season and its second consecutive NCISAA Title. On the year, he completed 172-of-245 passes (70.2-percent) for over 2,695 yards and 39 touchdowns.
"I wanted to just follow [Derham's] footsteps and just get one for the seniors, because we had a lot of great senior leaders on last year's team," said Hanson. "I felt like, even though it was my first year starting, I needed to step-up and act like I knew what I was doing."
Buffering Hanson through the rough times last season was a solid corps of offensive weapons, which included NCSIAA All-State selections WR Breton Berson, TE Ben Jordan, and TB Justin Curtis.
Berson is Hanson's only returning weapon, which means Hanson must take on much more of the offensive burden this fall.
"This year [Hanson] is going to have to assume a little bit more of the offensive responsibility," said McNulty. "We're going to ask him to do a few more things then he did last year."
Despite the assumption that Hanson might be like a statue because of his "pocket passer" label, he has some mobility in his repertoire and McNulty plans on showcasing that this season.
"Last year we were predominately a three-step, five-step pocket team," said McNulty. "We're going to do a little more with move out stuff – boot leg, sprint out, action pass. We're just going to try to get him to moving around a little bit."
Additionally, Hanson will become a true signal caller.
"He's going to call a lot of his own plays," said McNulty. "We use a check-with-me system; we use a no huddle system at times. As he matures in his understanding of what we want done, we'll give him more and more responsibility.
"I like quarterbacks who can understand the concept of check-with-me and direct the offense at the weakness of the defense. To me that's the whole key to offensive football."
Meeting the lofty expectations last season has only increased the expectations for Hanson this coming season.
"We're going to try to keep this tradition going," said McNulty. "We've been very, very fortunate. We've had four very good years in a row. We've had four good senior groups.
"I think our schedule is probably as tough as we've ever had here at Latin – we picked up a couple of really good powerful public school programs. And we're not blessed with a lot of depth."
The expectations are further increased by Hanson's recruiting status.
"I think the more pressure for me is personal pressure," said Hanson. "Everybody is going to be looking at me, because of the offers and stuff like that.
"I'm going to need to be a little bit more assertive in the way I play – be a leader and step-up and be more vocal."